Every year new research is produced concerning schizophrenia. Although schizophrenia is not fully understood, new research is identifying some potential interventions and possible causes of schizophrenia.
Prevention and Early Intervention Research
One new study found that taking a fish oil supplement prior to any symptoms of schizophrenia may actually help prevent psychosis from developing. Researchers tested the efficacy of taking long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids for the prevention of psychotic disorders. The results show that taking Omega-3 not only reduces the risk psychotic disorders developing further but may also provide a viable strategy of prevention in young children with a predisposition for psychotic states. Omega-3 fatty acids have lately become popular in mainstream society for potentially helping prevent heart disease and cancer. Often labeled as Omega-3 fish oil, it can be purchased in most supermarkets and pharmacies.
Omega-3 fatty acids and the possible prevention of psychosis
In a randomized controlled study of at risk young adults, a European study showed that Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) reduced the number of young adults who develop psychosis. The effect was powerful but the total number of subjects was only 81, so the promising study needs to be replicated with a larger
sample. Despite this sample limitation, this is a powerful piece of the prevention literature and more needs to be understood about dosing and effect. At this time, NAMI's medical director advises individuals in the teen to young adult developmental stage who have early symptoms or prodrome of psychosis to take omega three fatty acids as there appear to be few risks in this strategy with potential benefit. The study can be found in the February 2010 edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
The RAISE Project
The Recovery After Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) Project is a research initiative started by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 2009 to explore the benefits of early and aggressive treatment in reducing the symptoms of schizophrenia. Previous research has shown that stepping in during the early stages of psychosis proves to be most beneficial because symptoms are the most responsive to treatment. By addressing the illness early and designing a personalized program, individuals may have more success in accepting and maintaining treatment and consequently improved functional ability in life.
In August 2011 the RAISE Project began full-scale clinical trials. Two independent research groups are working in parallel to develop and test potential intervention approaches. The treatments are similar but the research approaches and settings are different, allowing RAISE researchers to rigorously test interventions under a variety of conditions. One group, led by John M. Kane, M.D., of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, is called the RAISE Early Treatment Program (ETP). The ETP will compare two different ways of providing care to people in early stages of schizophrenia. Treatment may include personalized medication treatment, individual resiliency training and supportive services such as family psychoeducation and education or employment assistance.
The second team, the RAISE Connection Program, headed by Susan Essock, Ph.D., of Columbia University, aims to engage participants in individually tailored treatment, illness management strategies, education and/or employment assistance, supportive services and follow-up care for up to two years.