APA presents The Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Schizophrenia

On April 1, 1997, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) published The Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Schizophrenia, one of a series of APA guidelines concerning mental health issues. The guideline emphasizes the use of antipsychotic medications in conjunction with comprehensive, long-term psychiatric care to treat schizophrenia.

The guideline is the product of a six-member group led by Marvin I. Herz, M.D., but literally several hundred mental health professionals and organizations contributed to its development, including representatives from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

According to the guideline, routine doctor's visits and a standard medication regimen are not enough. The APA recommends treating each patient on a individual basis, with emphasis on medication management and continuing care specific to each patient's needs.

The guideline highlights antipsychotic medication as the instrumental part of schizophrenia treatment. Particularly stressed are the newer antipsychotic medications, such as risperidone and olanzapine, which frequently relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia better than older medications, and often with fewer side effects. Clozapine, also a newer, fairly successful medication, is supported as a second-line drug since it requires weekly blood draws to protect against the risk of a fatal blood disorder.

When a person is living with schizophrenia, his/her family and community is also affected, often negatively. The guideline encourages family counseling and community support, which may help patients cope with daily living issues and in turn harbor a better living situation for all involved.

In addition to treatment suggestions, the guideline offers recommendations for reducing relapses and provides information on how to proceed if a relapse does occur. For instance, the guideline warns that anxiety, tension or sleep problems often signal that a relapse is imminent, and that an increase in medication and/or therapy may prevent the relapse.

The Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Schizophrenia may be purchased by the general public for $22.50. For purchasing information, contact American Psychiatric Press, Inc. (APPI), phone (800) 368-5777, Order #2309.

For more information see the following web site: http://www.psych.org/

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