Schizophrenia: Research Identifying Three Stages of Prodrome

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Schizophrenia is a severe and debilitating mental disorder that affects approximately 1% of the population worldwide (Mamani, Gurak, & Suro, 2014). Schizophrenia is characterized by positive symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions and disorganized thinking and speech, as well as negative symptoms, including flat affect, apathy, lack of motivation or drive and social isolation. Schizophrenia is also associated with cognitive, social, and functional deficits and abnormalities in mood, such as anxiety and depression (Larson, Walker, & Compton, 2010). Due to the chronic and impairing nature of schizophrenia, recent research has focused on identifying and treating individuals in the prodromal phase of illness, also referred to as the at-risk mental state or ARMS (Tiffin & Welsh, 2013). The prodrome or ARMS refers to the period of time beginning with declines in areas including cognition and social, emotional and perceptual functioning, and ending with the onset of a schizophrenia spectrum disorder (White, Anjum, & Schulz, 2006). Identification and treatment of the prodromal period is of utmost importance, as research has shown that a longer duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) is associated with poorer prognosis for patients (Kaur & Cadenhead, 2010; Larson et al., 2010).
Recent research has identified three stages of the prodrome. In the first stage of the prodrome, individuals often display the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, including social withdrawal, decline in school functioning, and may also exhibit signs of anxiety or depression (Larson et al., 2010). These individuals also often have a genetic vulnerability to develop schizophrenia, in the form of prior family history of psychosis (Kaur & Cadenhead, 2010). In the ...

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...ght as to when booster sessions may be most helpful. Finally, research examining the potential stigma associated with providing treatment to these at-risk individuals would be helpful. If it is determined that providing these treatments to at risk individuals is stigmatizing, this may be an area of focus for clinicians working within this population. Overall, this area of research is of extreme importance due to the fact that longer periods of untreated illness in psychosis are associated with poorer prognosis. However, further research on the efficacy of CT for the prodrome is needed, and the limitations of this research should be addressed further, such as testing the intervention with individuals of various ethnic backgrounds, tracking participants outcomes over longer periods of time, and testing the intervention against other well validated treatment programs.

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