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degree, according to research - but we've also seen research that suggests the chances of any one drug working for a person may be only 50% or so. People frequently have to try more than one drug to partially or completely control the positive symptoms - hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, racing thoughts, etc). They are not as effective in controlling negative symptoms, and may cause side-effects of their own. However, second-generation antipsychotics (also called atypical antipsychotics) have shown more success with some patient population in treating negative and cognitive symptoms. There are also a wealth of new, and hopefully better,schizophrenia medications currently in development. Many patients and their families choose supplemental therapies (these can include psychosocial or cognitive therapy, rehabilitation day programs, peer support groups, nutritional supplements, etc) to use in conjunction with their medications. In certain severe cases, some patients also respond to electroconvulsive therapy (which has been shown to be safe and effective) or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). These additional treatments can be essential for a full recovery - although medications are the best tool right now for controlling symptoms (particularly positive ones), other treatments and therapies are what can help a person manage depression, social interactions, school, work, and the components for a full life. The most promising complementary treatments to try in conjunction with medication that we have seen thus far, based on scientific literature and patient experiences, include personal therapy (there are many types), certain amino acids and antioxidant vitamins such as glycine or sarcosine supplements, and a healthy diet. Personal Therapy Personal Therapy is a psychosocial intervention designed to help patients with schizophrenia recognize and respond appropriately to arousing stimuli improves function and reduces relapse. Personal therapy, as it is called, aims to create a therapeutic umbrella to protect the patients from undue personal stress. Recent studies have suggested that over the long haul, individual psychotherapy tailored to strengthen interpersonal skills and control social stress markedly helps many people suffering from the disorder. This new form of schizophrenia treatment has resulted in lower relapse rates and progressively better social functioning over 3 years, at least for people able to live with family members and meet basic survival needs, contend social worker Gerard E. Hogarty of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and his colleagues. ECT (Electro-Convulsive Therapy) Research suggests that Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has a modest but definite role to play in the treatment of schizophrenia despite the adverse publicity it has received. . In European countries it has been used more widely for the treatment of schizophrenia than in the United States. Antioxidant Vitamins Researchers have found a positive correlation between superoxide generation and the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, indicating a possible role for oxidative stress in the development of the disease (and the potential for antioxidants to help in decreasing the risk or severity of the disease). "There are several lines of evidence to support the contribution of oxygen free radicals in schizophrenia, including increased lipid peroxidation, fatty acids, and alterations in blood levels of antioxidant enzymes," note Pinkhas Sirota (Tel Aviv University, Israel) and colleagues, in a recent research paper.
Higher than normal intake of foods known to have a high content of antioxidants, as well as supplements of high antioxidant vitamins (Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vitamin E, Vitamin C) may have some beneficial impact on the incidence and progression of the disease - anecdotal evidence suggests as much as 5% to 10% improvement for some individuals. Foods high in antioxidants include blue berries (frozen or fresh), dried plums, spinach and strawberries. Animal-Assisted Therapy Research has shown that pets (dogs and cats) may offer a low cost, yet helpful type of therapy for people with schizophrenia. What the researchers call "Animal-assisted Therapy" has been shown to encourage mobility, interpersonal contact, and communication and reinforced activities of daily living, including personal hygiene and independent self-care. Music Therapy Music therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which the patient is encouraged to utilize music to improve interpersonal and communication skills in ways that regular dialogue is limited. Forms of music therapy generally are based around cognitive/behavioral, humanistic or psychoanalytic frameworks or a mixture of approaches. There are usually both active and receptive parts of the therapy, meaning that at times music is listened to and at other times there is the use of musical improvisation or creation. There have not been many studies on music therapy and schizophrenia, but the Cochrane review looked at the data available for a recent review. Acupuncture Acupuncture has been used to treat mental health disorders, including schizophrenia, for more than 2000 years. However, in an analysis by the Cochrane Review (the leading medical review publisher) in early 2006 it was determined that there is: "insufficient evidence to recommend the use of acupuncture for people with schizophrenia. The numbers of participants and the blinding of acupuncture were both inadequate, and more comprehensive and better designed studies are needed to determine the effects of acupuncture for schizophrenia." Source: Cochrane Review: Acupuncture for schizophrenia Art Therapy for Schizophrenia The Cochrane Review (a leading medical review publication) has this to say about Art Therapy for Schizophrenia.
"The British Association of Art Therapists definition of Art Therapy is "the use of art materials for self-expression and reflection in the presence of a trained art therapist. Clients who are referred to art therapy need not have previous experience or skill in art, the art therapist is not primarily concerned with making an aesthetic or diagnostic assessment of the client's image. The overall aim of its practitioners is to enable a client to effect change and growth on a personal level through the use of art materials in a safe and facilitating environment." It has proved to be difficult to estimate how widely this intervention is available. However, there are descriptions of its use with people with schizophrenia, individually and in groups, in inpatient and outpatient settings as well as in the private sector. Unfortunately we only found two randomised controlled trials that studied the use of art therapy for people with schizophrenia. Both studies did not include enough participants to make the results meaningful and we were unable to draw clear conclusions regarding the benefits or harms of art
therapy from these studies. More research is needed to determine the value of art therapy in this population." Source: The Cochrane Review: Art therapy for schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like illnesses Psychotherapy: One-fifth to one-third of all patients with schizophrenia do not respond adequately to drug treatment. Many patients who have been successfully treated with medications experience the "awakenings" phenomena, which are painful reactions that are manifested as inner emotions and the recognition of real losses. The effects of the disease, in any case, are profoundly emotional. As a result, psychological therapies can be helpful for many patients. Cognitive-Behavioral and Other Psychosocial Therapies The use of cognitive-behavioral therapy is showing particular promise for improvement in both positive and negative symptoms in some patients, and the benefits may persist after treatment has stopped. This approach attempts to strengthen the patient's capacity for normal thinking, using mental exercises and self-observation. More evidence is showing that improving patients' ability to learn, remember, and pay attention allows them to better cope with ongoing positive symptoms and lead independent lives. Patients with schizophrenia are taught to critically analyze hallucinations and examine underlying beliefs in them.
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