In March, doctors found the patient had schizophrenia, but it wasn’t until the end of June that they began talking to her about her medication, said Dr. Michael J. Tuchman, director of the Institute of Mental Health and Mental Disorders at the University of Michigan Medical School.
“She didn’t have any delusions, no hallucinations, she had a lot of anxiety and depression symptoms,” he said.
“I didn’t know it was schizophrenia until I looked at her blood test.”
The patient is now receiving a course of antipsychotics and other treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy.
The results have been impressive.
The patient has had a stable quality of life and her depression is lessened, Tuchmann said.
The symptoms of schizophrenia have varied in severity and duration, but there is a broad range in severity, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The most common symptoms include a loss of social contact, an inability to communicate, difficulty with interpersonal relationships and an inability or unwillingness to engage in normal daily activities, according the American Psychiatric Association.
Some people have more severe symptoms, but those with milder symptoms have been more likely to benefit, Tuchelman said.
There have been two previous cases of people with schizophrenia who were treated with antipsychotic drugs.
They were also able to move through their life, he said, and some of the patients have been able to get jobs.
“It’s an incredibly promising study,” Tuchmen said.
What can the public do to help?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been working with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the U.N. Children’s Fund to promote a common understanding of schizophrenia, Tufan said.
Some mental health providers may also be able to assist people with depression and anxiety disorders.
Department of Veterans Affairs has offered a program to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder get access to psychotropic medications, including antidepressants.
The agency is also working to make it easier for people with substance use disorders to access mental health services.
“These people have been struggling to make sense of their lives for years, and they’re in desperate need of help,” Tufen said.
Contact Amy Kranz at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at MLive.