Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that can affect the way you think, feel, and behave. Those affected may appear to lose touch with reality which can be hard for family and friends. A new study has shown that antipsychotic therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can increase cognition and functioning for people suffering from this mental illness. 

Methods in the New Study

The UCLA Aftercare Program conducted a 12-month randomized controlled trial with 60 patients. They reported that those who had experienced their first episode of schizophrenia took an oral or long-acting injectable antipsychotic medication in a randomized way. They also received either cognitive remediation or healthy behavior training. The CBT-involved training focused on attention, memory, and problem-solving skills to help them get through complex, real-life situations. The healthy behavioral training focused on nutrition, stress management, and exercise. All patients received help with employment and education in hopes of them returning to work or school. Researchers found that using a combination of long-acting antipsychotics and multipronged cognitive remediation that taught memory and problem-solving showed improvements in work and school performance. 

Antipsychotics for Schizophrenia

Because schizophrenia can keep you from seeing the world in a normal way, you may not want to take medication. Schizophrenia can lead to hallucinations, delusions, jumbled or confused thinking, or odd and random movements. Antipsychotics help ease these troubling symptoms. Even if you feel better after taking these medications, you may still need to be on them for the rest of your life. The antipsychotics may be in the form of a pill, liquid, or injection. If you are having trouble remembering to take your medication every day, you can get a shot from the doctor once or twice a month of a long-acting injectable antipsychotic. It is important to be patient while taking these medications as it may take four to six weeks for the effects to occur.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Schizophrenia

CBT for schizophrenia is about establishing an understanding of your problem, setting goals, and teaching techniques to reduce or manage your symptoms. The goal of this form of therapy is to improve your ability to function on your own, manage your schizophrenia, and reduce daily distress. Specific approaches with CBT include an emphasis on being non-confrontational and normalizing psychotic episodes. By combining antipsychotic medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, your schizophrenia will be manageable and you will be able to live a happy life with your peers.

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