Treating Schizophrenia

December 5, 2014 • Volume 24, Issue 43
Are antipsychotic drugs the best treatment?
By Sarah Glazer

Introduction

Aaron Divita (Getty Images/The Washington Post/Leah Nash)
Sixteen-year-old Aaron Divita participates in a program in Eugene, Ore., for young people considered at risk of developing schizophrenia. Several programs around the country are attempting to identify and treat teenagers with early warning signs — like hearing voices — that might put them at risk for schizophrenia even before they've experienced a psychotic break. (Getty Images/The Washington Post/Leah Nash)

Schizophrenia, a mental disorder that makes it difficult to distinguish reality from unreality, afflicts about 1 percent of the adult population, with symptoms typically emerging in adolescence or young adulthood. A growing number of experts believe schizophrenia is not a single disease, but rather a variety of disorders that manifest themselves in different ways. While many with the diagnosis hear voices, that experience lies on a continuum, from hearing the benign words of a deceased relative to enduring terrifying rants urging self-harm. Recent studies have sparked debate over whether psychiatric drugs taken over many years — today's mainstream treatment — may actually make it harder for people to cope with daily life and work. In addition, understanding voices as representations of past trauma is more helpful than trying to suppress them with drugs, some voice-hearers contend. Meanwhile, experts are divided over whether states should mandate involuntary outpatient treatment for those who need treatment but resist it.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Mental Health
Mar. 13, 2015  Prisoners and Mental Illness
Dec. 05, 2014  Treating Schizophrenia
Sep. 12, 2014  Teen Suicide
May 10, 2013  Mental Health Policy
Aug. 03, 2012  Treating ADHD
Jun. 01, 2012  Traumatic Brain Injury
Jun. 26, 2009  Treating Depression
Feb. 13, 2004  Youth Suicide
Feb. 06, 2004  Mental Illness Medication Debate
Mar. 29, 2002  Mental Health Insurance
Feb. 08, 2002  Treating Anxiety
Jul. 16, 1999  Childhood Depression
Jun. 18, 1999  Boys' Emotional Needs
Sep. 12, 1997  Mental Health Policy
Aug. 19, 1994  Prozac
Aug. 06, 1993  Mental Illness
Oct. 09, 1992  Depression
Jun. 14, 1991  Teenage Suicide
Jul. 08, 1988  Biology Invades Psychology
Feb. 13, 1987  The Mentally Ill
Aug. 20, 1982  Mental Health Care Reappraisal
Jun. 12, 1981  Youth Suicide
Sep. 21, 1979  Mental Health Care
Sep. 15, 1978  Brain Research
Jul. 05, 1974  Psychomedicine
Aug. 08, 1973  Emotionally Disturbed Children
Dec. 27, 1972  Mental Depression
Mar. 24, 1972  Schizophrenia: Medical Enigma
Apr. 21, 1971  Approaches to Death
Mar. 03, 1971  Encounter Groups
Nov. 25, 1970  Psychological Counseling of Students
Feb. 19, 1969  Future of Psychiatry
Feb. 02, 1966  New Approaches to Mental Illness
Jan. 22, 1964  Insanity as a Defense
Sep. 25, 1963  Anatomy of Suicide
Nov. 20, 1957  Drugs and Mental Health
Apr. 23, 1954  Mental Health Programs
Jul. 09, 1948  Mental Health
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