The FDA just approved INVEGA® (paliperidone) for the treatment of schizophrenia in adolescents 12 to 17 years of age, the drug was already FDA approved for adults. The antipsychotic drug may be a breakthrough for teens. According to Medical News Today, “The efficacy of INVEGA® to treat schizophrenia in adolescents was established in one six-week clinical study. INVEGA® is an atypical antipsychotic medication and was first approved in the U.S. in December 2006 for the treatment of schizophrenia in adults”
Treatment with antipsychotic medications is the standard course of care for patients who have schizophrenia. However, the high incidence of adverse effects and relapse associated with long-term treatment with these medications suggests the need for a better approach. A different recent study conducted in China found that patients with early-stage schizophrenia who were treated with a combination of antipsychotic medication and psychosocial intervention (psychological development in and interaction with a social environment) had better clinical and functional outcomes.
The 12-month study enrolled 1,268 patients and randomly assigned them to receive antipsychotic medication alone or antipsychotics combined with psychosocial intervention. Eligible subjects were receiving maintenance treatment with an oral antipsychotic medication as well as living with family members that could be involved in their care. Psychosocial interventions were conducted in a group format and were held once per month for 12 months. Each of the treatments was held on the same day, for a total of 48 one-hour sessions.
Interventions consisted of four evidence-based practices:
- Psychoeducation: Teaching patients and caregivers about symptoms and treatment of illness
- Family Intervention: Collaborating with family and teaching ways to cope with the stress caused by the illness; teaching relapse detection and crisis intervention
- Skills Training: Instruction in medication management, dealing with stigma, social problem solving and independent living skills
- Cognitive behavior therapy: treatment of hallucinations and delusions, prevention of relapse, and enhancement of medication compliance
Of the patients enrolled in the study, 60 percent completed the one-year follow-up: 53.2 percent in the medication-only group; 67.2 percent in the combined intervention group. In the medication-only group, 42.4 percent discontinued treatment because of poor outcomes, compared to only 29.1 percent in the combined group. Risks of relapse and hospital admission were substantially lower in the combined group. Better quality-of-life outcomes were also seen in the combined group, with a significantly higher proportion of these patients obtaining employment or getting an education.
This study suggests that combined treatment is much more effective than medication alone for patients with early-stage schizophrenia. The results may be applicable in many parts of the world, and the possibilities for improvement in the treatment model are promising. Other notable research shows schizophrenia may be prevented prenatally.