Behavioral Neurobiology of Schizophrenia and Its Treatment

Volume 4 of the series Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences pp 97-121


Treatment Implications of the Schizophrenia Prodrome

  • Tejal KaurAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of CaliforniaDivision of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York Presbyterian Hospital of Columbia and Cornell Universities
  • , Kristin S. CadenheadAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of California Email author 

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Schizophrenia is a debilitating neurodevelopmental disorder that strikes at a critical period of a young person’s life. Early identification of individuals in the prodromal phase of a psychotic illness can lead to earlier treatment and perhaps prevention of many of the devastating effects of a first psychotic episode. International research efforts have demonstrated the success of community outreach and education regarding the schizophrenia prodrome and it is now possible to use empirically defined clinical and demographic criteria to identify individuals at a substantially increased risk for a psychotic illness. The development of clinical staging criteria for psychosis that incorporates type and severity of clinical symptoms, level of global and social functioning, family history, substance use, neurocognitive functioning, and perhaps neurobiological information, could help to specify appropriate treatment for vulnerable individuals at different phases of the prodrome. Preliminary psychosocial and pharmacologic treatment studies report initial success in reducing severity of prodromal symptoms in “at-risk” samples, but further work is needed to refine the prodromal criteria and perform well controlled treatment studies in adequately powered samples. Treatment algorithms can then be tailored to presenting symptoms, number of risk factors present, and evidence of progression of the illness, to assure appropriate, safe and effective interventions in the early stages of psychosis.