Treatment for childhood abuse may help schizophrenia patients too

Sydney: People suffering from schizophrenia may now possibly benefit from the effective, sensitive and tailored treatments used to treat victims of childhood abuse, researchers have claimed.

The study associated a link between the sexual, physical and emotional abuse experienced during the childhood and the severity of symptoms such as detachment from reality, hallucinations, delusions, disorganised thinking, and lack of motivation or emotions in schizophrenic patients and other psychotic disorders.

The meta-analysis, published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin, which analysed 29 studies on childhood trauma and psychotic symptoms, found that childhood sexual abuse was associated with delusions.

In addition, hallucinations in those with psychotic disorders were associated with all types of childhood trauma.

“This means there is something about childhood trauma that leads some people to develop hallucinations,” said lead author Sarah Bendall, research fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Researchers added that around one in every 100 people will experience a psychotic disorder in their lives, with the majority developing symptoms between 18 to 25 years old.

Until now, treatments for trauma in psychosis focused on post-traumatic stress disorder rather than specific symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.

But this research not only helps in refine treatments for patients with psychotic disorders, it may also help to empower young patients.

“When young people come to youth mental health services, we should be assessing for trauma and for emerging psychotic symptoms, and treating them as soon as they emerge,” she said.

“We can also arm young people with some of this research knowledge and then they can make decisions about the factors that may have caused their psychosis to develop or continue. It’s a very empowering thing to be able to give people that information,” the researcher said.