Patients are usually prescribed medication for an unlimited length of time after it has been established which medicine works best without too many side effects.
But perhaps doctors should think about helping people to transition off their medication, suggests the authors behind the new study.
It shows that there’s actually a large group, though still a minority of patients, who can function without medicine and without developing psychosis. So as a doctor, you shouldn’t rule out that patients could give up their medicine,” says co-author Merete Nordentoft, a professor in psychiatry at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
303 patients took part in the follow up interviews and 30 per cent of them were doing well despite not taking their medication. The scientists found that this group was in remission.
One group in particular had an especially high chance of coping without medication: women who did not take drugs, with a high level of functionality and connection to the labour market.
“We can see that those who have a high level of functionality to begin with—those who can manage well and have a good social life—are also the ones who cope without medicine after ten years,” says Nordentoft.
Ebdrup underlines that the most well-functioning of schizophrenia patients are probably those who manage best without their medication.
I’m not one of the 30% who can function without meds. It’s risky.