When dealing with schizophrenic patients, doctors often rely on anti-psychotic medication as the first line of treatment. However, a recent study hints that cognitive behavioral therapy may also be a good alternative for schizophrenia treatment.

Many schizophrenia patients are often uncomfortable about taking anti-psychotic drugs. Regardless of whether this discomfort is brought about by personal choice or biological incompatibilities with the medications, dealing with schizophrenia can be difficult. However, a recent study published on The Lancet indicates that cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective for people who refuse anti-psychotic drugs.

Schizophrenia is one of the more common mental disorders. According to data gathered in 2011, over 24 million people have been diagnosed with schizophrenia for that year alone. While drugs can be used to successfully treat the onset of psychosis, they can do little to prevent many of the other negative symptoms of the disorder. Moreover, many of these drugs have undesirable side effects such as weight gain and diabetes.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been around for a while now. In fact, this type of treatment is part of the core schizophrenia management program recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). However, cognitive behavioral therapy for schizophrenia is still a bit of a rarity today. Given the rising number of patients who refuse pharmacological treatment, researchers have been carefully studying viable alternatives that can be brought to the fore such as psychotherapy.

To conduct the study, researchers led by Professor Anthony P. Morrison and Professor Douglas Turkington of University of Manchester in the UK, gathered 74 individuals. These individuals were then randomly broken up into two groups. The first group was given access to cognitive behavioral therapy, while the second group relied solely on pharmacological treatment.

"Cognitive therapy significantly reduced psychiatric symptoms and seems to be a safe and acceptable alternative for people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders who have chosen not to take antipsychotic drugs," said the researchers. "Evidence-based treatments should be available to these individuals. A larger, definitive trial is needed."

The data gathered by the researchers can be used to formulate more effective treatment protocols for schizophrenia management. Late last month, the results of largest study regarding the genetic mechanisms of schizophrenia were also published.

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