Treatment of the first episode of schizophrenia: An update on pharmacologic and psychological interventions

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Abstract

This review emphasizes the recent findings on different pharmacologic and psychological interventions in the treatment of first-episode schizophrenia. Most controlled studies demonstrate that first-and second-generation antipsychotics produce a similar reduction in symptom severity and an overall equal likelihood of clinical response. The cognitive improvements found across atypical antipsychotics were similar and consistent in magnitude with practice effects observed in healthy controls. However, the differential effect of low doses of haloperidol on cognitive function compared with that of second-generation antipsychotics is still debated. The different pattern of metabolic side effects induced by long-term use of antipsychotics is a crucial concern when selecting an antipsychotic treatment for a first-episode patient. More long-term studies are necessary to elucidate the metabolic effects of the different antipsychotic drugs. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and family interventions seem to be effective adjunctive treatments in early phases of schizophrenia in some patients.

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