Helping young people with psychosis

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Schwartz, C., Yung, D., Cairncross, N., Barican, J., Gray-Grant, D., & Waddell, C. (2020). Helping young people with psychosis. Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 14(4), 1–18. Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

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Background: Psychotic disorders are associated with a high degree of impairment making early intervention crucial for youth. We therefore set out to identify effective psychosis interventions for young people.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating treatment interventions. After applying our rigorous inclusion criteria, we accepted eight RCTs – evaluating five different medications and three psychosocial interventions.

Results: Aripiprazole and olanzapine showed benefits in two trials each, although both led to adverse events that require close monitoring. Cognitive Remediation Therapy, Computer-Assisted Cognitive Remediation and the Think Program showed secondary benefits of improved cognitive skills and reduced emergency room visits which can be helpful when used along with antipsychotic medications.

Conclusions: Antipsychotics should be used prudently, after careful assessment and diagnosis, and psychosocial interventions should be offered as well. Further research is needed on early interventions to help young people with psychosis.

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