When therapy works better than drugs

Psychological treatments such as cognitive therapy (CT) can be effective when combating early warning signs that may lead to psychosis or scizophrenia. This is the suggestion of new research published on the British Medical Journal website bmj.com, which also found drugs may not be the best option for individuals at risk of psychosis.

Investigators from the universities of Glasgow, Cambridge, East Anglia and Birmingham revealed CT might reduce the severity of psychotic experiences in young adults.

According to the findings, this approach coupled with regular monitoring has the ability to lessen the frequency of episodes that can eventually result in conditions such as schizophrenia.

Professor Andrew Gumley from the University of Glasgow noted the study could help ensure young people at risk of problems in later life are given access to suitable psychological therapies.

He stated: "Our findings that there is a much lower transition rate than previously found means that clinicians have to be extremely careful about prescribing antipsychotics in this group."

Clinical psychologist Dr Lucy Johnstone C Psychol says:

"This is a very significant finding. It is obviously best to avoid powerful medications and their associated side-effects if we can.

"Therapy is likely to be a more acceptable and less stigmatising option for young people, and if it is also more effective, then clearly it should be the first option for those who may be at risk of developing psychosis."