Negative symptoms are key to recovery in first-time psychosis

The severity of negative symptoms in a first episode of psychosis could determine long-term health outcomes for those suffering from mental health conditions like schizophrenia, new research reports.

How these symptoms are dealt with could impact recovery during future episodes, the long-term study from Aarhus University in Denmark found.

Negative symptoms

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia include things like a lack of facial expression, monotone and monosyllabic speech, reduced interest in pleasure or spontaneity or a lack of interest in other people.

The 10-year study analyzed 304 of 496 trial patients, all of whom were at different rates of recovery after first-episode psychosis. The researchers identified that one significant predictor of recovery was lower severity of negative symptoms.

“Current interventions for these symptoms appear to [be] relatively ineffective and future research should focus on the systematic measurement and treatment of negative psychopathology as a potential way to promote recovery," the authors wrote.

Treatment implications

Since negative symptoms are associated with thinking deficiencies, helping schizophrenics cope with mental fluency problems, social challenges and motivation could improve long-term recovery outcomes, the researchers suggested.

"Identification of factors that promote recovery can help develop interventions that facilitate good outcomes for people with first episode psychosis," the authors said.

Results of the study are published in the journal Schizophrenia Research.

Source: Schizophrenia Research

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