This first SharePost in June will talk about breaking news in the SZ field.
First, researchers have identified genes linked with schizophrenia that allowed them to create a risk test for who might develop the illness.
Genes and environment are thought to play a role in schizophrenia.
The researchers tested a list of genes, drawn from genome-wide association studies, in four different groups of people. The test identified those with schizophrenia and those who did not have this illness. The test was accurate in two-thirds of the cases.
The lead researcher suggested the test could help promote early intervention and treatment in young people in families with a history of schizophrenia.
("Genetic Test May Aid in Predicting Schizophrenia Risk," retrieved on May 27, 2012 from http://psychcentral.com/news)
An interesting study in Finland indicated antidepressant medications appear to reduce suicide rates in people with SZ, while benzodiazepines greatly increase the risk.
The study followed 2,588 Finns diagnosed with schizophrenia for four years starting with their admission to the hospital. 160 people died and 35 of the deaths were suicide. Suicide and cardiovascular disease were the two main causes of death.
The participants who took benzodiazepines ran a 91 percent higher risk of early death than when these drugs were not used. It is thought that when these drugs run out the withdrawal symptoms cause suicidality.
The researchers conclude that benzodiazepines should be discontinued gradually rather than abruptly over a period of weeks or months, and in consultation with a doctor.
The participants who took antidepressants had a 43 percent lower mortality risk than when these drugs were not used. The suicide risk when antidepressants were used was decreased by 85 percent.
("Antidepressants for Schizophrenia Lead to Fewer Suicides," retrieved on May 27, 2012 from http://psychcentral.com/news)
The last study I'll report on is controversial yet hopeful.
As it is, the anti-psychiatry contingent has an agenda of promoting the drug-free model of living. For some people with schizophrenia, the antipsychotic medication doesn't completely halt their voices or other symptoms. And a crowd of people believe the drugs do more harm than good.
A researcher of this study suggests that individuals who refuse these kinds of drugs should be offered cognitive therapy (CT).
The CT study examined for the first time whether cognitive therapy alone, without adjunct medication, could effectively halt symptoms. Prior studies showed that CT in combination with medication was effective.
The latest study involved participants who were given 9 months of CT. They were assessed at baseline, end of treatment, and 15 months using the Positive and Negative Syndromes Scale (PANSS).
All of the participants: "achieved reductions in hallucinations, delusions, and social impairment." Nearly half reported a significant reduction in symptoms.