NEW HAVEN, Conn., Feb 27, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia soon after a first psychotic episode may improve a patient's outcome, a U.S. researcher reported.
The length of time between onset of psychosis and detection and treatment can range from weeks to years, and there is some indication that leaving schizophrenia untreated can increase the risk of a poor outcome, said Dr. Thomas McGlashan, professor of psychiatry at Yale University.
McGlashan looked at the clinical state of 281 patients who had similar treatment protocols -- first at admission and then three months later. Some had early detection programs available to them and others did not.
Patients who did not have access to early detection programs went untreated for much longer periods -- four months as compared to one month for those who did have access.
"All factors being equal, early detection efforts will bring people into treatment at lower symptom levels," McGlashan said in a statement. "Patients who began treatment earlier tended to be younger, less symptomatic and more responsive to treatment."
A follow-up is planned after one, two, five and 10 years to see if early detection and intervention have a lasting effect.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.