Cognitive Therapy Improves Symptoms for Severely Impaired Schizophrenics

Schizophrenia affects all sufferers differently, and people with the disease may achieve very different levels of functioning depending on the severity of their symptoms and the type of treatment they receive. A new study, appearing in the October 3 edition of Archives of General Psychiatry, is the first to show that cognitive therapy can have a significant positive impact on the most impaired and poorly functioning schizophrenia patients.

The randomized, single-blind study, conducted by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, looked at 60 adults with schizophrenia. They received either cognitive therapy plus standard treatment, or standard treatment alone. The cognitive therapy highlighted the patients' interests, assets, and strengths, and was designed to promote recovery by helping patients set and achieve goals. After 18 months, those receiving cognitive therapy entered "a dynamic cycle of recovery," which ultimately led to continued improvement of their symptoms.

"Mental health professionals often give up on the lowest-functioning cases of schizophrenia and may say that they are not capable of improving," said lead author Paul Grant. "Our results suggest that cognitive therapy can improve quality of life, reduce symptoms, and promote recovery in these patients. This intervention can help these patients improve to the point where they may be able to move up to the next level in psychosocial functioning - i.e. going from being unemployed to volunteering part-time; not being in school to enrolling in night classes; not socializing to having a weekly social contact and making a friend or two."

Source: MedicalXpress

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