Biological Therapies for Schizophrenia- Essay Plan

Here's an essay plan on the subject of biological therapies for schizophrenia. Use it if you want, I chose these studies/explanations as they had the most to write on. When writing essays in psych remember about breadth and dept, 200 words approx for AO1 and 400 approx for AO2/3.

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  • Created on: 24-06-10 09:23
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Biological Therapies for Schizophrenia- Essay Plan
1. Describe in some detail antipsychotic medication-conventional antipsychotics
-chlorpromazine are used to combat the positive symptoms of schizophrenia (hallucinations
and thought disturbances) which are products of an overactive dopamine system. Atypical
antipsychotics (clozapine) also combat the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, but people
claim they have beneficial effects on negative symptoms as well.
2. Conventional antipsychotics- reduce the effects of dopamine, and so reduce the symptoms
of schizophrenia- dopamine antagonists (bind to dopamine receptors, D2 receptors in
particular, but do not stimulate them and so block the actions of them), helps support the
dopamine hypothesis.
3. Critical Point 1: There is some evidence to support the use of conventional antipsychotics
when looking at relapse rates. Davis examined 29 studies and found that relapse occurred in
55% of the patients whose drugs were replaced by a placebo compared to just 19% of
those who remained on the drug. This seems to suggest that they are successful in helping
people who have schizophrenia. However Ross and Read point out that these figures are
misleading as they indicate that 45% of those on a placebo did benefit just from the placebo
instead of the taking the course of drugs. Therefore, there is contradictory evidence for the
success of conventional antipsychotics in terms of relapse rates.
4. Critical Point 2: There is research that suggests other factors play a key role in the success of
the treatment. Vaughn and Leff found that antipsychotic medication did make a significant
difference, but only for those who were living in hostile and criticising home environments. In
these conditions the relapse rates for those on medication were 53% and for those in the
placebo condition the relapse rate was 92%. Therefore, this implies that if the environment
is not a supportive one then taking conventional antipsychotic drugs will help more than just
giving them a placebo. Although, the relapse rate was 53% with medication therefore this
means that there are still over half of the patients relapsing who took the drugs.
5. Critical Point 3: There is an ethical issue with the conventional antipsychotics, they have
several worrying side effects, one of which is tardive dyskinesia. Hill found that 30% of
people taking antipsychotic medication develop tardive dyskinesia and this is irreversible in
the majority of cases. Consequently, this undermines the treatment as people would have to
decide if they are okay with having the disorder and possibly not even being cured from
6. Atypical antipsychotic drugs- block serotonin receptors as well as d2 receptors. Kapur and
Remington claim that these drugs do not involve serotonin or other neurotransmitters- only
temporarily occupying the D2 receptors and then rapidly dissociating to allow normal
dopamine transmission.
7. Critical Point 1: There is the question of how much better the antipsychotic drugs are
compared to the conventional ones. Leucht carried out a meta analysis and found that the
superiority of these drugs was only moderate, it found of the four drugs that were tested,
half were only slightly more effective than conventional antipsychotics and the other two
were no more effective. As a result of this, we have to question if there is a point taking the
atypical antipsychotics instead of just the conventional ones.

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Critical Point 2: There is one big advantage for the atypical antipsychotics as opposed to the
conventional ones which is there is a lower likelihood of tardive dyskinesia. There is evidence
to support this suggestion, Jeste found just 5% rates of tardive dyskinesia with patients
using atypical drugs compared to 30% for conventional antipsychotics. Therefore, this
implies that atypical antipsychotics would be a better option than the conventional ones.
9.…read more


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