For mental illness, pretty much the same rules apply as for the body: the sooner you treat it, the better the prognosis. Researchers at the Department of Psychiatry of the RUB clinic in Bochum, Germany developed a concept for early detection and treatment of schizophrenia that already “clicks” at the first signs of the disease. An early treatment of schizophrenia patients in preliminary stages of the disease also reduces the risk of the disorder turning chronic.
For early detection, delusional symptoms, fleeting hallucinations, cognitive flexibility and general intelligence are analyzed. But until recently, one important factor often remained unconsidered according to the researchers: ‘social cognition’. The ability to empathize with others and to process emotional stimuli is often significantly impaired in the early stages of schizophrenia, regardless of other symptoms. Accordingly, psychoeducative methods are often more effective for treatment that antipsychotic drugs. Imaging studies demonstrate that the brain areas responsible for social cognition also show reduced activity in schizophrenic patients. It is the first time such research has been done for patients in the early stages of psychoses.
Live the happy life you planned! Richard L. Fellner is head of the Pattaya Counseling Center in Soi Khopai and offers consultations in English and German languages (after making appointments at 0854 370 470).