Brief overview of biological therapies and appropriateness and effectiveness

Appropriateness and effectiveness of biological therapies (ECT and drug therapies) as well as a brief overview on ECT/drug therapies. 

Note: neuroleptic drugs aka typical/conventional antipsychotics

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Biological therapies for schizophrenia
Drug Therapy
Neuroleptic drugs are conventional drugs that are often used in the treatment of
schizophrenia. These drugs block the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine within 48
hours, and their effect on dopamine is believed to be important in therapy. However, these
drugs are better at treating positive symptoms than negative symptoms. Neuroleptic drugs
have the most beneficial effects in the first 6 months, however, there can be serious
problems when patients stop taking the drugs. Neuroleptic drugs produce side effects Most
side effects occur within a few weeks of beginning drug therapy. However, long term drug
therapy of over a year can result in tardive dyskinesia. More than 20 per cent of patients that
take them for over a year develop this condition.
Schizophrenia is increasingly treated with atypical antipsychotic drugs. These drugs
resemble conventional antipsychotics as they block the activity of the neurotransmitter
dopamine, however, they block specific D2 receptors and also affect serotonin activity.
Antipsychotics have advantages over conventional antipsychotics. They have fewer side
effects, more patients with schizophrenia benefit from them and they are more useful in
helping patients that mainly suffer from negative symptoms of schizophrenia. However,
atypical drugs can produce serious side effects, for example, patients taking clozapine have
a 12% chance of developing agranulocytosis.
Drug therapy for schizophrenia is effective in various ways. It has appeared to be more
effective than other forms of therapy in the treatment of schizophrenia. Drug treatment also
often reduces the symptoms of schizophrenia more rapidly than psychological therapies, and
allows patients to live relatively normal lives. However, drug therapy is not effective in every
respect. Drug therapy is a palliative treatment and does not address the underlying
processes or causes for schizophrenia, it just suppresses the symptoms. Also, some
patients are resistant to drugs, meaning they are not effective for everyone.
Drug therapy is appropriate for schizophrenia as it has a very genetic and biological basis.
Also, patients with schizophrenia exhibit abnormalities in dopamine levels and functioning.
The main drugs that are used to treat schizophrenia block dopamine receptors. However,
drug therapy may also be considered inappropriate as there are some potentially very serious
side effects. There is also an issue with compliance, as some patients will not be willing to
take drugs due to the side effects that they can cause, which can lead to tragic results. Also,
because antipsychotic drugs just cover up symptoms and don't actually cure the patient, the
patient may have to take the drugs for life, which could deem them inappropriate because of
the disabling side effects that can occur. Furthermore, there are individual differences in
response to drugs. Even when atypical antipsychotics are used, they aren't effective with
15% of patients.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) involves passing an electric current through the head to
induce seizures. ECT is used in the treatment of schizophrenia, but less frequently than in
the treatment of depression, as it isn't as effective. ECT has been found to have beneficial

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ECT is often used when patients show a limited response to medication
alone being used to treat their condition. ECT has been found to produce a marked reduction
in positive symptoms, especially when combined with drug therapy. However, it has been
found that ECT either had no effect or a worsening effect on negative symptoms of
ECT has appeared to be a moderately effective form of treatment, and has been found to be
a rapid form of treatment.…read more


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