Support for patients who need to take psychotropic drugs
What would you suggest we do as a society to support patients who genuinely need to take psychotropic medications?
This is a very difficult question, and if there were any easy answers, I’m sure that we would have come up with one by now. The most optimistic studies that I have seen suggest that cognitive therapy may be the key. Some in the field believe that cognitive therapy along with psychotropic medications are an effective treatment for psychotic behavior, however, I found a 2012 study done in the United Kingdom that showed promise in the area of providing cognitive therapy alone (Morrison, et al. 2012). In this study, 20 individuals who had, …”schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder or delusional disorder or meeting entry criteria for an early intervention in psychosis,” (Morrison, et al. 2012, para 4) were studied for 9 months in which they received Cognitive Therapy (CT) alone. Each of these individuals had either taken psychotropic interventions in the past and refused to continue, and had been off of them for at least six months, or had never taken psychotropic drugs (Morrison, et al. 2012). The results were to me astounding. Of the individuals in the study, only one subject needed to be placed on psychotropic drugs during the study and two others were placed on psychotropic drugs during the follow up period after the study (Morrison, et al. 2012). All of the remaining participants displayed statistically significant reductions in the severity of both positive symptoms and negative symptoms of their disorder when compared to their condition at their entry into the study (Morrison, et al. 2012). The authors, rightfully, believe that a more comprehensive study is warranted, as they would like to see this applied to a larger sample. They would also like to see if the three individuals who did end up on psychotropic drugs were more willing to use them due to the cognitive therapy they received during the study(Morrison, et al. 2012).
I think that if we can find ways to treat the behaviors related to schizophrenia without the negative side effects of the currently available drugs, individuals may begin to make progress in coping with this disorder. We already know that, “[t]hanks to the absence of those undesirable side effects, the discontinuance rate (that is, the percentage of patients who no longer wish to take the drug) is only about 9 percent, a very low level when compared to the discontinuance rate for antipsychotic drugs in general” (Levinthal, 2012, p. 367). If the main reason that people are discontinuing the use of their drugs are the side effects, we can eliminate these side effects with cognitive therapy. We also have an advantage by using CT in that therapy is becoming more socially acceptable. If someone has a problem, but indicates to a friend or family member that, “I’m getting help for this,” the individual may be met with a more accepting and supportive attitude. People receive therapy for a variety of conditions from substance abuse, to depression, to anger management, and typically this type of behavior therapy is supported. I would definitely like to see where research into this type of solution leads for the future of treatment for individuals with these devastating disorders.
Levinthal, C. F. (2012). Drugs, behavior, and modern society. (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson College Div.
Morrison, A. P., Hutton, P., Wardle, M., Spencer, H., Barratt, S., Brabban, A., . . . Turkington, D. (2012). Cognitive therapy for people with a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis not taking antipsychotic medication: An exploratory trial. Psychological Medicine, 42(5), 1049-56. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291711001899