Schizophrenia: early treatment improves outcome

For many years, psychiatrists have argued over whether or not early intervention after a schizophrenia patient’s first episode of psychosis could improve the patient’s long-term outcome. A new study concludes that early intervention can improve outcome.

Historically, the prevailing view has been that “it just doesn’t matter when you treat a person because their clinical outcome is predetermined,” Dr. Diana O. Perkins from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explained in a UNC statement.

This view, which holds that schizophrenia is the result of altered brain development that begins before birth and that treatment will not improve long-term outcome, is often referred to as the “doomed from the womb” theory. Many psychiatrists still hold this to be true, but more recent studies, including the current one, suggest that early treatment can improve outcome.