What About Psychosocial Treatments?
Antipsychotic drugs have proven to be crucial in relieving the
psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia hallucinations, delusions,
and incoherence but are not consistent in relieving the
behavioral symptoms of the disorder. Even when patients with schizophrenia
are relatively free of psychotic symptoms, many still have extraordinary
difficulty with communication, motivation, self-care, and establishing
and maintaining relationships with others. Moreover, because patients
with schizophrenia frequently become ill during the critical career-forming
years of life (e.g., ages 18 to 35), they are less likely to complete
the training required for skilled work. As a result, many with
schizophrenia not only suffer thinking and emotional difficulties,
but lack social and work skills and experience as well.
It is with these psychological, social, and occupational problems
that psychosocial treatments may help most. While psychosocial
approaches have limited value for acutely psychotic patients (those
who are out of touch with reality or have prominent hallucinations
or delusions), they may be useful for patients with less severe
symptoms or for patients whose psychotic symptoms are under control.
Numerous forms of psychosocial therapy are available for people
with schizophrenia, and most focus on improving the patient's
social functioning whether in the hospital or community,
at home, or on the job. Some of these approaches are described
here. Unfortunately, the availability of different forms of treatment
varies greatly from place to place.
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