More than two million people in the United States have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and the treatment for most of them mainly involves strong doses of antipsychotic drugs that blunt hallucinations and delusions but can come with unbearable side effects, like severe weight gain or debilitating tremors.
Now, results of a landmark government-funded study call that approach into question. The findings, from by far the most rigorous trial to date conducted in the United States, concluded that schizophrenia patients who received smaller doses of antipsychotic medication and a bigger emphasis on one-on-one talk therapy and family support made greater strides in recovery over the first two years of treatment than patients who got the usual drug-focused care.
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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President
More than 60 million American adults — one in every four — suffer from some form of mental illness, ranging from panic disorders to depression, according to mental health professionals. Nearly 14 million live with a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and severe depression.
Americans often don’t know where to turn when dealing with a loved one with serious mental illness, but there are resources available.
Here are a few of those:
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides a program geared toward healthy living strategies and skill-building resources for adults. The course is free, confidential and led by trained individuals in recovery from mental illness. The organization also facilitates a discussion group called Teen Consumers, which provides a healthy environment for teenagers to discuss their diagnoses and treatments. The National Alliance on Mental Illness also offers support groups for parents of teens with mental illness. The nonprofit’s website provides a state-by-state directory of local support groups. It has a hotline for general information, referrals and support: 800-950-6264. Its hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together people and communities to “understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes.” Those in crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to talk to a counselor.
- The Treatment Advocacy Center is a nonprofit that works to promote policies that support people with severe mental illness. Its website features links to connect families and individuals to treatment options, legal resources and crisis response strategies.
- Treatment Before Tragedy is a new nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the most seriously mentally ill and their families. The group’s mission statement is to advocate “for better treatment, services, research and a cure for individuals and families impacted by serious mental illness.”
- The Balanced Mind Parent Network offers support for parents and guardians of children with mood disorders. The nonprofit provides online support groups, a professional resource directory and a help line in which families can submit questions to trained parent volunteers. The network’s website lists 28 support groups to address the needs of all ages — from toddler to young adults suffering from depression or bipolar disorder as well as to their family members. The organization aims to see children thrive in spite of their disorders by receiving proper care and the support they deserve.
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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President