(Aug. 29, 2012) If you are a regular reader of Treatment Advocacy Center news and commentary, it’s likely you have a friend, loved one, client or someone else in your life with a severe psychiatric disease. That’s because we’re the only national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to treatment issues involved in mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
It’s also likely that, at some point, a frantic neighbor or friend or colleague will seek your advice because their own loved one, someone – very possibly a teenager or young adult – has suffered a psychotic break.
You’re probably already prepared to explain that treatment works. It’s a message we can’t repeat often enough in a world still too inclined to regard psychiatric disease as a case of weak will or inappropriate parenting or just sheer evilness.
For family members and others confronted with a first break, there’s a second message that’s just as urgent to share: Swift, early treatment works even better.
The latest evidence was published date in Annals of General Psychiatry ("Does duration of untreated psychosis predict very long term outcome of schizophrenic disorders? results of a retrospective study," August 2). The study looked at whether the time gap between the onset of psychotic symptoms and first treatment plays a relevant role in long-term outcomes for schizophrenia. The conclusion: the less time between the onset of psychosis and treatment, the better the outcome (e.g., less suicide, less hospitalization), "even in the very long-term" (15 years-plus).
This news came on the heels of a similar report earlier this year (summarized in "Benefits Persist Decade After Early Psychosis Intervention," April 7), which found that a "a significantly higher number of individuals who received early intervention for a first-episode psychosis fulfilled recovery criteria than did individuals receiving usual care."
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Mental Health has funded two studies as part of its Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) Project, to "fundamentally change the trajectory and prognosis of schizophrenia through coordinated and aggressive treatment in the earliest stages of illness." NIMH reports that progress on the research is under way.
Some families faced with an initial psychotic break in a loved one are able to persuade the individual to seek and accept treatment voluntarily. When persuasion fails, emergency hospitalization or court-ordered treatment can be crucial to minimizing the duration of psychosis.
If you ever find yourself on the receiving end of one of those desperate calls because of a psychiatric crisis, here are resources from our website that can help:
- Get Help for a Loved One
- "Assisted Psychiatric Treatment: Inpatient and Outpatient Standards by State" - essential information about laws governing court-ordered hospitalization (inpatient) and community treatment (often called "assisted outpatient treatment" or "AOT")
- "Emergency Hospitalization for Evaluation: Assisted Psychiatric Treatment Standards by State" - essential information about criteria for emergency hospitalization for psychiatric evaluation (also called "hold," "pick-up," "detention," "provisional hospitalization," "72-hour emergency admission" or other)
- "Initiating Court-Ordered Assisted Treatment: Inpatient, Outpatient and Emergency Hospitalization Standards by State"- essential information about who may initiate proceedings leading to court-ordered treatment for an individual with symptoms of severe mental illness