Psychosocial and rehabilitative therapies may be helpful for patients with schizophrenia.
Cognitive-Behavioral and Other Psychosocial Therapies
The use of cognitive-behavioral therapy is showing particular promise for improvement of both positive and negative symptoms in some patients, and the benefits may persist after treatment has stopped. This approach attempts to strengthen the patient's capacity for normal thinking, using mental exercises and self-observation. Improving patients' abilities to learn, remember, and pay attention may allow them to better cope with ongoing positive symptoms and lead independent lives. Patients with schizophrenia are taught to critically analyze hallucinations and examine underlying beliefs in them.
Psychosocial therapies can also be helpful for addressing alcohol and substance abuse, smoking, and weight gain. In addition to psychosocial techniques, patients can benefit from nutritional counseling for weight management, and buproprion (Zyban) for smoking cessation.
Family and Outside Support Structures
Positive social interaction is extremely important for people with schizophrenia and may help reduce symptoms, including the number of delusional moments.
Family Support. Families or other caregivers can be very helpful in a number of ways:
- They can encourage patients to comply with drug treatments and to recognize early signs of serious treatment side effects.
- They can be taught to recognize impending symptoms of relapse and help the patient avoid situations that might trigger them. (Symptoms for an impending relapse after remission may include feeling distant from family and friends or being increasingly bothered by persistent thoughts.)
Rehabilitation Programs. Rehabilitation services include job counseling and training, social rehabilitation services (to improve patients’ abilities to interact socially with others), and other programs to help patients live independent lives within their communities. Substance abuse counseling and treatment programs are also very important for many patients.
Support Groups. Support groups can provide shared advice, resources, and a sense of community and comfort for patients and their families.
Review Date: 01/27/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.