For patients with schizophrenia, a combination of medication and clinical interventions for positive symptoms and rehabilitation for negative and cognitive symptoms may help achieve recovery, according to researchers.
Additional psychosocial therapies including peer support and coaching from other individuals living with schizophrenia and support services for family members, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness's (NAMI) Family-to-Family Education Program, can promote recovery, reduce hospitalizations, and increase employment rates.
“For many years we’ve underestimated the ability of people with schizophrenia to change and improve their lives, and in fact, clinical care in many settings actually constrains patients and creates lower expectations about what they can achieve,” said Stephen Marder, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California in Los Angeles.
“There are modern approaches to the management of schizophrenia that can aim patients toward recovery and more normal function."
Other policy changes schizophrenia researchers and health care providers are advocating for include:
More evidence-based, integrated care packages to address both the physical and mental needs of people living with the disorder
Better support to help patients function and find work within their communities, and education for family members
More funding for research and development for new treatments
As understanding schizophrenia evolves, so too does the concept of recovery, according to researchers, with focus shifting from the total cessation of symptoms to an emphasis on the potential for growth despite the presence of mental illness.
The outlook for people diagnosed with schizophrenia, once considered a devastating illness that only worsens over time, has improved in the past several decades. Approaches to managing the disorder, so patients can attain more normal function are outlined in the Journal of the American Medical Association.