Schizophrenia ‘can be treated like anxiety’

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Anxiety. Pic © Sander van der Wel Wikimedia Commons

Anxiety. Pic © Sander van der Wel Wikimedia Commons

Schizophrenia and psychosis can be understood and treated in the same way as other psychological problems, such as anxiety, according to a major new report.

Five professors from the University of Liverpool have contributed to the report which also suggests that symptoms of the illnesses, such as hearing voices or feeling paranoid, can often be a reaction to trauma or abuse.

Dr Eleanor Longden and Professors Peter Kinderman, John Read, Richard Bentall, and David Pilgrim have all contributed to the 175-page report, subtitled ‘Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality, and what can help’.

The report also states it is a myth that people who have these experiences are likely to be violent. It says psychological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, can be very helpful for many people.

Professor Read told JMU Journalism: “We are delighted that our University has made such a significant contribution to this exciting document.

“The University of Liverpool is at the forefront of providing the evidence-base for an urgently needed paradigm shift in our mental health services. The label and drug approach, which tends to minimise psycho-social causes and solutions, is often ineffective and sometimes damaging.

“The report is a breakthrough in knowledge about the illnesses especially in the area of the psycho-social causes, eg poverty, abuse and neglect; And certainly challenges the existing myths that hearing voices and having very strange ideas are biologically-based illnesses.

“Hopefully it is another step towards the ideal situation where all people experiencing psychosis are offered both psychological therapy and mediation and given a genuine choice between the two.”

Richard Colwill, media manager for mental health charity Sane, told JMU Journalism: “What will help people to get the right treatment are better resources. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen reports into this. the problem is the lack of resources, which is something we’ve been campaigning about for quite some time.

“The research isn’t telling us much more than we already know, but we welcome any research into mental illness as there is still a lot about mental health issues that we don’t know. We need better treatments and the only way to get this is through more high quality research.”

About Josie Timms, JMU Journalism