New York—The outlook for people diagnosed with schizophrenia, once considered a devastating illness that only worsens over time, has improved in the past several decades. Antipsychotic medications and psychosocial treatments have allowed many with the illness to achieve some degree of recovery, manage residual symptoms, and lead productive lives. Yet additional efforts are needed to consolidate these improvements and help more patients reach these goals.
“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, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. Now, however, modern approaches to managing the disorder can help patients attain more normal function, he said.
These approaches are outlined in a new report, “Schizophrenia: Time to Commit to Policy Change,” drafted by Marder and others (Fleischhacker WW et al. SchizophreniaBull. 2014;40:S165-S194). Their policy recommendations include providing the following:
Evidence-based, integrated care packages for people with schizophrenia that address their physical and mental health needs Support for people with schizophrenia to help them enter and remain in their communities and to find and retain employment Support and education for family members and caregivers Funding for research and development of new treatments
Marder was among several experts who spoke about issues of recovery in schizophrenia at the annual American Psychiatric Association meeting held here in May.