Psychoeducation for Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a highly disruptive form of mental illness known for its ability to trigger psychosis, a state most commonly marked by delusional thought patterns and sensory hallucinations. Doctors often face tremendous challenges in treating this illness. Part of the problem stems from the fact that many people with schizophrenia don’t really understand their condition and fail to follow through on their prescribed treatment. Fortunately, a form of psychotherapy called psychoeducation can help improve knowledge levels and treatment outcomes.

Schizophrenia Basics

In addition to producing psychosis, schizophrenia can have a wide range of other effects on your ability to functional normally or maintain a sense of well-being. Examples of these effects include:

  • Dysfunctional or abnormal thought patterns not considered to be delusional
  • A decline in the expressiveness of your voice or facial features
  • Uncontrolled and aimless movement of your body
  • A diminishing general ability to feel pleasure
  • Short-term memory problems
  • A declining ability to make rational judgments
  • A reduced ability to maintain focus or attention
  • A declining desire to speak

Most people develop schizophrenia as teenagers or young adults. Cases that start in early childhood or later adulthood are relatively rare.

What Is Psychoeducation?

Mental health experts use the term psychoeducation to refer to a course of education that helps patients and patients’ families gain a better understanding of mental illness. This approach is used for a wide array of conditions, including schizophrenia. For schizophrenia patients and members of their families, specific goals of the education process include:

  • An improved understanding of the illness and how it’s treated
  • An improved understanding of how schizophrenia medications do their job
  • An improved understanding of the importance of using medications as prescribed
  • An improved ability to stick with other aspects of schizophrenia treatment
  • An improved understanding of how drug/alcohol use can worsen schizophrenia symptoms
  • An improved ability to cope with stressful situations
  • Avoidance of serious relapses that put a schizophrenia patient back in the hospital

Does It Work?

Throughout the years, dozens of high-quality clinical trials have examined the effectiveness of psychoeducation as a mental illness treatment. These trials show that this education approach leads to better treatment outcomes, improves family cohesion and diminishes the risks for severe symptom relapses. A review conducted in 2011 specifically looked at the usefulness of the technique for people with schizophrenia. The authors of the review found that it reduces the rate of schizophrenia relapse and increases the odds that people affected by the illness will take their medications as intended.   Sources: National Institute of Mental Health: Schizophrenia Psychiatric Times: An Evidence-Based Practice of Psychoeducation for Schizophrenia  Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Psychoeducation for Schizophrenia

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