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Novel therapy to improve social skills of people with schizophrenia

Posted on 12-26-2017 Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Schizophrenia - 0 Comments

Novel therapy to improve social skills of people with schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel and behave. Though it is not as common as other mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, the symptoms can be incapacitating. People struggling with this disorder live in their own world and lose touch with the reality. They are generally socially isolated, have troubles sustaining interest in daily activities or concentrating and experience hallucinations and delusions. Researchers are constantly trying to find a breakthrough in treatment approach other than dependence on medications. Now, a recent study by researchers in the United Kingdom offers a ray of hope to young people suffering from schizophrenia.

The researchers from the University of Sussex have developed a new therapy, known as social recovery therapy, to help the affected people reconnect and engage with the world around them.

According to the study, published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, social recovery therapy enables socially withdrawn individuals to recognize personal goals and set everyday activities, which are achievable. This helps them to come out of their shell and increase their social interactions. Although schizophrenia affects 1 percent of the population, the younger population is at greater risk. According to psychologist and professor at Sussex David Fowler, who developed this therapy along with his colleagues, the currently available treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medications, are effective for those patients who have the willpower to change. However, a significant number of people struggle with more serious consequences because of which they remain socially crippled for the rest of their lives. The novel therapy can empower such people to believe in themselves and engage in meaningful conversations.

The study was carried out for a period of two years comprising 154 patients aged 16-35. The positive outcomes were observed for those patients who received early intervention and social recovery therapy for a period of nine months. The patients and therapists worked together during the social recovery therapy in three phases.

  • The first phase involved identification of expectations and goals
  • The second phase involved creation of pathways to achieve the goals that included identifying education providers and community providers of social and sports activities
  • The final stage involved managing devastating symptoms of the disease like overcoming negative beliefs with simultaneous involvement in the new activities

The authors found that patients who were seriously socially withdrawn were spending less than 30 hours a week outside their homes but with the use of early intervention and social recovery therapy, the average weekly time could be increased by eight hours. This could be a measurable tool to train other people in identifying youth who are susceptible to developing disorders during early stages of their lives.

Road to recovery

According to experts, adolescent men are more vulnerable to suffer from this disorder, while women are more prone to the disease when they are around 25-30 years. It is important to be respectful and supportive of what the patients might be thinking or feeling as their hallucinations seem real to them. Talking to them in a derogatory manner will further isolate them from the community, reducing their chances of living a better life. Families and friends can find out nearby support groups and connect the patients to good schizophrenia rehabilitation centers.

While medications and therapies can keep symptoms in check, few self-care strategies can also help in symptom alleviation like looking after physical health, managing stress, investing in meaningful relationships and pursuing hobbies.

Sovereign Health of Florida offers evidence-based behavioral treatment programs to treat individuals who struggle with schizophrenia. We provide residential treatment for schizophrenia in a safe and supportive environment conducive to bring changes in how a person thinks, feels or behaves. Our facility is equipped to serve both English- and Spanish-speaking patients. For more information, you can call our 24/7 helpline number or chat with one of our representatives.

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