Feature Article

Demystifying schizophrenia: management guidelines

Stephen Carbone, Patrick D McGorry
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Although it is one of the most misunderstood mental disorders in our community, schizophrenia can be effectively treated. Myths and pessimism surrounding the condition need to be dispelled in order to promote early intervention and optimal treatment.

Key Points

  • Early detection of schizophrenia is vital. Long periods of untreated psychosis are associated with significantly poorer outcomes.
  • A team approach to care is preferable.
  • Treatment aims to achieve remission of active psychotic symptoms, promote functional and social recovery, and prevent relapse and secondary mental and physical health problems. Addressing comorbid substance use is important.
  • Successful outcomes depend on the combined use of antipsychotic medication and active individual and family psychosocial support.
  • Atypical antipsychotics should be used as first line therapy. Clozapine should be introduced early if symptoms persist despite an adequate trial of two different antipsychotic medications.
  • The affected person’s physical health remains a prime focus of attention.