Young People With Early Psychosis May Not Require Antipsychotic Medications To Recover

Current practice recommends anti-psychotic medication be taken from the outset of psychotic illness in order to achieve rapid recovery and improvement of psychotic symptoms.

According to a research published in Schizophrenia Bulletin Open, Young people with early psychosis may not require antipsychotic medications to recover.

The research, titled, Staged Treatment and Acceptability Guidelines in Early Psychosis (STAGES) compared two groups of young people, aged 15 – 25 years, presenting with episode psychosis (FEP) to a specialist early psychosis service.

Orygen researcher Dr Shona Francey, who led the study, said the team wanted to investigate whether medication was an essential part of treatment for young people with early stage FEP.

“For a significant number of young people, it is. But, I think some young people can recover, at least initially, from their psychosis without medication,” she said.

Current practice recommends anti-psychotic medication be taken from the outset of psychotic illness in order to achieve rapid recovery and improvement of psychotic symptoms.

However, Dr Francey said, in reality, a lot of people vote with their feet and don’t take their medication for a variety of reasons.

“Medications can have heavy-duty side effects for young people, including weight gain which is a significant issue that young people are concerned about. There are also various sexual and other physical side effects that young people on medication have to contend with.”

Psychosis Myths

  • People with psychosis are dangerous or evil
  • It means you have multiple personalities
  • People with psychosis are all the same
  • People with psychosis look dishevelled
  • People with psychosis need to be locked away
  • Psychosis is caused by drug use
  • There is no treatment for psychosis
  • People with psychosis can’t recover

What is psychosis?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health of the United States, the word psychosis is used to describe conditions that affect the mind, where there has been some loss of contact with reality. When someone becomes ill in this way, it is called a psychotic episode. During a period of psychosis, a person’s thoughts and perceptions are disturbed, and the individual may have difficulty understanding what is real and what is not.

Who develops It?

Psychosis can affect people from all walks of life. Psychosis often begins when a person is in his or her late teens to mid-twenties. There are about 100,000 new cases of psychosis each year in the U.S.

Signs and symptoms of psychosis?

  • Sudden drop in grades or job performance
  • New trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Suspiciousness, paranoid ideas, or uneasiness with others
  • Withdrawing socially, spending a lot more time alone than usual
  • Unusual, overly intense new ideas, strange feelings, or no feelings at all
  • Decline in self-care or personal hygiene
  • Difficulty telling reality from fantasy
  • Confused speech or trouble communicating

Source: NHM

The main categories of causes of psychosis are:

Mental illness: Psychosis can be caused by a mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression.

Genetics: People with a family history of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia have a slightly increased chance of developing psychosis. There is no single gene that causes psychosis, but a number of different genes may increase the likelihood of developing it.

Recreational drugs: Psychosis can be triggered by the use of drugs, including cannabis, amphetamines (including speed and ice), LSD (acid), magic mushrooms, ketamine, ecstasy and cocaine.


Antipsychotic medicines are usually recommended as the first treatment. They work by blocking the effect of dopamine, a chemical that transmits messages in the brain.

However, they’re not suitable or effective for everyone, as side effects can affect people differently. In particular, antipsychotics will be monitored closely in people who also have epilepsy, a condition that causes seizures or fits.

Source: NHS

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