Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North East Researchers Talk Up New Treatments

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North East Researchers Talk Up New Treatments

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae Health Reporter

NEW research in the North East has identified an alternative therapy for people with schizophrenia not taking antipsychotic drugs.

Experts in the region have identified say cognitive therapy - in which patients talk about their mental health issues with professionals in a bid to resolve problems - could be a viable alternative to medication for those with the mental illness.

The findings, from teams at Newcastle University and Manchester University, suggest that cognitive therapy could be safe and effective in reducing psychotic symptoms and improving personal and social functioning compared with usual treatment.

Douglas Turkington, professor of psychiatry at Newcastle University, said: "One of our most interesting findings was that when given the option, most patients were agreeable to trying cognitive therapy.

"If someone is on antipsychotics they should not just suddenly stop taking them as there is a major risk of relapse. Medical advice should always be sought if you are considering stopping your medication." Although cognitive therapy has helped people with schizophrenia when given in combination with antipsychotic drugs, until now its feasibility and effectiveness in individuals not taking medication was unknown.

The current study assessed whether cognitive therapy could reduce psychiatric symptoms in 74 individuals aged 16 to 65 years with schizophrenia spectrum disorders who had decided not to take or had stopped taking antipsychotics for at least six months.

The cognitive therapy involved a specialist working collaborativly with a patient to reappraise psychotic experiences and modify unhelpful thought patterns and behaviours.

Participants were randomly assigned to cognitive therapy plus treatment as usual, or to treatment as usual alone. …

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