Early intervention in schizophrenia

Indian J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr;50(2):128-34. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.42402.


Early intervention (EI) programs in schizophrenia and other psychoses are aimed at early detection (ED) of the disease; prevent conversion to manifested psychosis and phase-specific treatment to reduce development of chronic disabilities. EI strategies include targeting people at "high risk" for developing schizophrenia, intervening in prodromal phase of schizophrenia, and reducing the "duration of untreated psychosis" (DUP). Services are delivered by a specialized team and are usually resource intensive. Several strategies like treatment with antipsychotics, family interventions, and cognitive behavior therapy have been tried with modest success in prodromal patients. Significant ethical reservations exist regarding exposing prodromal patients to the stigma of labeling as "high risk for schizophrenia" and side effects of psychotropics in the absence of clear evidence of efficacy in favor of ED, intervention by specialist teams, and phase-specific interventions in prodrome of psychosis. More research is warranted to demonstrate the risk-benefit and cost-benefit of such interventions before these can be routinely recommended.

Keywords: Duration of untreated psychosis; early intervention; early psychosis; prodrome; schizophrenia.