Daniel Freeman, PhD, of the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and colleagues enrolled 150 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia or a related mental health problem. All had severe paranoia, despite receiving medication. Persecutory delusions are unrealistic beliefs that others are intentionally trying to harm the person.
Patients received six CBT sessions that focused on minimizing worry. The sessions lessened the severity of the persecutory delusions, and patients were more happy and less fearful of others after the treatment, the researchers reported in the Lancet Psychiatry. The positive effects of the treatment lasted at least six months.
“The clinical trial convincingly shows that teaching people how to limit worry has a major impact on long-standing fears about other people,” Freeman said in a statement. “Brief, targeted, and active psychological help makes a real difference for patients with paranoia.”
The researchers are now looking at combining the worry reduction therapy with tackling other factors, such as lack of sleep and low self-esteem, with the hope it will help many more patients recover from persistent delusions.
Delusions of persecution in psychiatric patients can be reduced with just six sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy, a new clinical trial has found. Using CBT in this way could potentially help to prevent mental illnesses occurring in at-risk people.
The study, published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, was carried out by researchers at the Universities of Southampton, Oxford and Manchester and was funded by the UK’s Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Program.
Persecutory delusions are unrealistic beliefs that others are intentionally trying to harm the person. This severe paranoia is a key problem in many mental health conditions, including schizophrenia.