Emerging evidence on the development, "prodromal" characteristics, and long-term course of schizophrenia provide reasons for optimism for developing new treatments and preventive approaches for this devastating disorder, according to the special March/April issue of Harvard Review of Psychiatry. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.
"This special issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry brings together global experts in the epidemiology, neurobiology, and treatment of schizophrenia to reevaluate the natural history of the illness, and to elaborate priorities for new interventions," according to an introduction by guest editor Dr. Joshua L. Roffman of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
New Insights into Neurobiology, Early Treatment, and More
The eight papers in the special issue highlight key areas of progress toward understanding the development and course of schizophrenia--a condition for which the last major treatment breakthrough occurred decades ago. Specific advances that are highlighted include:
Other articles highlight new approaches to understanding how this complex and variable condition unfolds over time:
The special issue also presents updates on new directions in treatment. One promising therapy for patients early in the course of psychosis is "cognitive remediation"--a psychological treatment to improve thinking skills, that may be especially helpful during the prodromal period. Another paper highlights emerging treatment and preventive approaches. Recent evidence suggests possible benefits of some "repurposed" treatments and supplements, such as B-vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.
Dr. Roffman likens the "new natural history" of schizophrenia to a "gut renovation"--while the core concepts remain the same, scientists' understanding of the long-term clinical course and related neurobiology is undergoing transformative change. He concludes, "The critical reappraisal of the natural history of schizophrenia, and the related insights around new intervention strategies...provide every reason to be optimistic."
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