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Expert panel calls for raising the bar in treating schizophrenia

NEW YORK, NY (December 20, 2004) — A panel of experts says doctors treating patients with schizophrenia should be targeting symptoms beyond hallucinations and delusions, and focus in on the common, but often overlooked, symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as the inability to think clearly. Patients agree, ranking these symptoms as major concerns in a recent national survey. As a result, the expert panel, convened by MBL Communications, Inc., publishers of the trade journals Primary Psychiatry and CNS Spectrums, will be issuing a consensus statement about new treatment goals for schizophrenia.

"For decades, psychiatry has focused almost solely on managing a patient's 'positive symptoms,' such as hallucinations and delusions, because for previous treatments, that is pretty much all we had to offer," said Philip D. Harvey, PhD, professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and chief psychologist at Mount Sinai Hospital. "Today, patients and physicians should expect that more of the disease symptoms can be controlled, and that people with schizophrenia can have a more meaningful life."

With the advent of atypical antipsychotics, it is now possible to effectively treat the positive symptoms of hallucinations and delusions, as well as affective symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Furthermore, cognitive impairment (such as the inability to think clearly and difficulty concentrating) and impaired social function can also be alleviated. By targeting the broader spectrum of symptoms, these medications allow patients to function better in daily life.

"It takes time for advances in care to actually be used by physicians to benefit patients," said David Ginsberg, MD, section editor, MBL Communications, Inc. and director, Outpatient Services, Tisch Hospital Department of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center. "The recent major advances we have seen in the treatment of schizophrenia are so import
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Contact: Elaine Metcalf
212-229-8431
Chandler Chicco Agency
20-Dec-2004


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