Lessons Learned from Research in Prodromal Phase of Schizophrenia
Indian Journal of Social Psychiatry
In the last ten years, a significant amount of research data has accumulated to identify and predict the vulnerability of individuals to develop psychosis. At a time when DSM-V academia is becoming active with field trials, researchers in prodromal psychosis research are arguing for inclusion of 'risk syndrome for psychosis,' which has generated an interesting debate. Studies indicate that approximately 80-85% of cases experience subsyndromal symptoms for a period lasting from several months to several years prior to the onset of the illness, including impaired perception, thought processes, subjective cognitive functions and mood. Also, much of the functional decline associated with schizophrenia occurs during this prodromal phase. The major research achievements in this field have indicated that it is possible to identify candidates who might develop psychosis. It is also known that a delay in treatment compromises the outcome; once the 'critical period' for intervention is missed the treatment outcome shall remain poor. Function can be restored and quality of life can be enhanced with a range of therapeutic interventions during the early phase. This paper examines clinical and public health implications of prodromal research.