Current approaches to treatments for schizophrenia spectrum disorders, part I: an overview and medical treatments
Wai Tong Chien, Annie LK Yip
School of Nursing, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Abstract: During the last three decades, an increasing understanding of the etiology, psychopathology, and clinical manifestations of schizophrenia spectrum disorders, in addition to the introduction of second-generation antipsychotics, has optimized the potential for recovery from the illness. Continued development of various models of psychosocial intervention promotes the goal of schizophrenia treatment from one of symptom control and social adaptation to an optimal restoration of functioning and/or recovery. However, it is still questionable whether these new treatment approaches can address the patients' needs for treatment and services and contribute to better patient outcomes. This article provides an overview of different treatment approaches currently used in schizophrenia spectrum disorders to address complex health problems and a wide range of abnormalities and impairments resulting from the illness. There are different treatment strategies and targets for patients at different stages of the illness, ranging from prophylactic antipsychotics and cognitive–behavioral therapy in the premorbid stage to various psychosocial interventions in addition to antipsychotics for relapse prevention and rehabilitation in the later stages of the illness. The use of antipsychotics alone as the main treatment modality may be limited not only in being unable to tackle the frequently occurring negative symptoms and cognitive impairments but also in producing a wide variety of adverse effects to the body or organ functioning. Because of varied pharmacokinetics and treatment responsiveness across agents, the medication regimen should be determined on an individual basis to ensure an optimal effect in its long-term use. This review also highlights that the recent practice guidelines and standards have recommended that a combination of treatment modalities be adopted to meet the complex health needs of people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. In view of the heterogeneity of the risk factors and the illness progression of individual patients, the use of multifaceted illness management programs consisting of different combinations of physical, psychological, and social interventions might be efficient and effective in improving recovery.
Keywords: schizophrenia, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, treatment, psychosocial intervention, pharmacology, antipsychotics
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