Supports for Patients After First-Episode Psychosis Should Remain, Evidence Suggests

A psychotic episode doesn’t happen for the first time out of the blue—it can be years in making, with the young adult gradually withdrawing from friends and activities, doing poorly in school, and losing motivation to shower or even leave his room.

By the time the episode happens and a psychiatrist is asked to prescribe medication, “We are getting into the game late,” said Joseph P. McEvoy, MD, a professor at Georgia Regents University, who presented Thursday’s session, “First-Episode Psychosis 2015: Risk, Prodrome, Treatment and Outcome,” at the 28th US Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress, being held in San Diego, California.

Research that began 10 years ago into intervention programs, which seek to identify with those at risk of psychosis or provide social supports for those who have had a first episode, have shifted thinking into what it takes to prevent progression to psychosis or a relapse, McEvoy said. But the findings also show that educating friends family members—and using them as a resource—can pay dividends, especially by getting patients into treatment months earlier, before damage is irreversible.

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