Discuss Biological Treatments for Schizophrenia

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Discuss Biological Treatments for Schizophrenia (24 marks)

The vast majority of people who suffer from schizophrenia will receive some form of treatment to try and diminish their symptoms. There are drug therapies that help patients to function as well as possible, and were founded in the 1950's when the drugs were given to hospital patients to try and calm their anxiety before surgery but were also found to relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia and so consequently were used for treatment of schizophrenia. Antipsychotics were used to combat the positive symptoms of schizophrenia e.g. hallucinations and auditory hallucinations, which are come from having an overactive dopamine system in the brain.

When Dopamine was discovered in 1952, drugs were created to help reduce the amount of dopamine in the brain. Conventional antipsychotics reduce the effects of dopamine, and so reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia. They bind to dopamine receptors, D2 receptors in particular, but do not stimulate them and so block the actions of them, which also helps support the dopamine hypothesis. 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. 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...
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