Cognitive behavioral therapy can reduce paranoia in schizophrenics

Paranoid delusions, a significant problem for many people suffering from schizophrenia, could be curtailed with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), according to a new study.

Six sessions of CBT were enough to reduce worry in schizophrenic patients, researchers found, which consequently reduced the severity of "persecutory delusions" - or paranoia.

Results lasted at least six months, a press release on the study reported, and patients appeared to be happier and less fearful after the CBT sessions.

Limiting worry

The key to success in the therapy, researchers found, was helping patients to reduce worry, which enabled them to minimize fearful thoughts about the intentions of other people.

Study leader Daniel Freeman, professor at the University of Oxford, elaborated:

We know that worry brings implausible ideas to mind, keeps them there, and stirs up fears. It is one factor that causes paranoia. We’ve translated this knowledge into a new treatment. The clinical trial convincingly shows that teaching people how to limit worry has a major impact on long-standing fears about other people. Brief, targeted, and active psychological help makes a real difference for patients with paranoia.

By eliminating paranoia, patients with schizophrenia are also less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety or isolation, the researchers said.

"This study offers real hope and a major step forward," Freeman concluded.

Findings of the study are published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Source: University of Oxford

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