Latest Schizophrenia Research

Art therapy trial

The results of a trial comparing art therapy to activity programmes to as usual treatment were released in February 2012. It indicated that art therapy did not any advantage in the treatment of negative symptoms.

The Multicenter Study of Art Therapy in Schizophrenia

Cannabis decreases brain volume

A study released in November 2011 shows that cannabis decreases brain volume. It was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry and it is the first to show that there is an increased risk of brain changes...

Cannabis decreases brain volume

Schizophrenia and alcohol abuse

Schizophrenia and alcohol abuse is a significant problem. After nicotine and smoking cigarettes, alcohol is the next commonest substance used by people diagnosed with schizophrenia...


Lithium induced kidney failure

Lithium, although used succesfully for many years in the treatment of bipolar disease, has also been associated with renal failure. New evidence suggests that this may not be as bad as previously thought...


Early Intervention in Schizophrenia studies

There are promising results from the Norwegian TIPS study.
See early intervention in schizophrenia

Results from 3 studies in 2010 on fish oils

Some of the latest schizophrenia research in 2010 saw the release of results from 3 studies which showed favourable results for the use of fish oils in the management of schizophrenia.

Despite the numerous medications and therapeutic interventions available for the treatment of schizohrenia, the current outcomes are suboptimal.A significant percentage of patients are left with residual symptoms occurring in all domains - that is positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive deficits. This results in disabling psychosocial impairments which stands in the way of remission and recovery.

In recent years there has been a growing interest in the potential benefits of polyunsaturated fatty acids contained in fish oils. The omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are widely available in cold water fish species such as salmon, mackerel and herring. There is also evidence for its cardiovascular protective function.

In a Swedish study involving 33,000 women, the authors found the dietary intake of omega-3 and 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids was associated with a decreased risk for the emergence of psychotic-like symptoms.

In another study which looked at the effectiveness of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in preventing progression to psychosis in an at-risk group, Amminger et al found that there was a statistical difference in outcomes between one group given omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (which included eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and vitamin E) and another group given a placebo. The outcome was in favour of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid group which also found improved outcomes in positive and negative symptoms and functional outcomes.

In a Japanese study, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid levels were compared against levels of hostility in patients with schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder. It found a higher levels of hostility in patients that had lower levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the red cells.

These results, along with previous research, strongly suggest that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have a role to play in the managemeent of schizophrenia. However further research is still necessary to determine exactly which polyunsaturated fatty acids is beneficial and at which dose. Also the exact relationship between the polyunsaturated fatty acids and the antipsychotic drugs needs to be determined.

BMC Psych. 2010;10:38.
Arch Gen Psych. 2010;67:146-154.
Psych Res. 2010;177:22-26.

Vitamin E for Tardive Dyskinesia

The Cochrane Collaborative provides evidence for best practice. In this study they looked at the evidence of the benefit of vitamin E for tardive dyskinesia as a result of antipsychotic (neuroleptic) medication.

Tardive dyskinesia is a movement disorder which results from the chronic use of antispychotics. It is repetitive involuntary movements of muscle groups involving the limbs, usually upper limbs, and the facial and oral muscles. It can involve repetitive blinking, lip, tongue and head movements. The only medication with some evidence of efficacy is clozapine.

This study looked at the claims that vitamin E was effective in preventing or treating tardive dyskinesia. Results were taken from 11 randomised studies involving 427 people.

The evidence was not strong. The trials were small and of limited quality. The Cochrane evidence suggested that vitamin E may protect against the deterioration of tardive dyskinesia. However there was no evidence that it is effective in the treatment of established tardive dyskinesia. Further oinions were that further research in needed with newer and improved trials.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Feb 16;2