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Keys to Recovery from Schizophrenia

Patients Need More Help, Hope From Psychiatrists, Family, Friends
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3. Duration of untreated psychosis - When treatment is delayed after schizophrenia is diagnosed, it's much more difficult to gain remission. Only 13% of those who had their symptoms under control reported a delay of more than a year between onset of symptoms and treatment.

4. Initial response to medication - Symptom improvement within days of receiving antipsychotic drugs significantly predicts long-term results of treatment. Among the study group, 87% reported effective control of symptoms with their first antipsychotic medication.

5. Adherence to treatment - Failure to take antipsychotic medication as prescribed hampers both short-term and long-term recovery.

6. Supportive therapy - Positive relationships with psychiatrists, therapists, and other treatment teams create hope and are essential to improvement; 91% reported ongoing psychotherapy and 78% said that accessible and supportive psychiatrists and therapists contributed to their recovery.

7. Cognitive abilities - Problem-solving, working memory, and perception skills were all linked with recovery.

8. Social skills - Poor interpersonal skills affected the degree of disability. None of the study participants showed more than very mild problems with social skills.

9. Personal history - Education, IQ, age that symptoms began, work history, and social skills affected recovery; 70% of those who recovered had a college degree before becoming ill; 13% completed two years of college.

10. Access to care - Continuous, comprehensive treatment is crucial to recovery. Among study participants, 91% reported receiving antipsychotic medication and psychotherapy, 48% had social skills training, 57% had family participation in their lives, 26% had vocational rehabilitation, and 61% benefited from self-help groups.

SOURCE: International Review of Psychiatry, November 2002. • News release, University of California, Los Angeles.

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