Kevin has been in the hospital for six weeks and has improved significantly. The voices are not bothering him anymore and he no longer believes that his coworkers dislike him. Kevin is taking risperidone, an atypical antipsychotic medication that can effectively reduce symptoms without too many side effects. Kevin is tolerating the medicine well, and he feels like it is helping him. He has gained a bit of weight, but he is exercising daily in the gym on the hospital unit and trying to eat healthy foods. All in all, Kevin is functioning fairly well.
Dr. Talbot has enjoyed working with Kevin. A few weeks after he was admitted to the hospital, Kevin’s sense of humor emerged in their sessions together. He started to laugh and talk freely about how he has been feeling and how he hopes to control his symptoms. Dr. Talbot is pleased to see Kevin’s personality return to normal. His emotional responses to events, rather than being blunted or absent, are now appropriate. Kevin is extremely grateful to Natalie but also feels guilty about causing her stress. He remembers accusing his coworkers of broadcasting a radio show about him and is too embarrassed to return to work right away.
Dr. Talbot is helping Kevin determine the best option for him after he leaves the hospital—to return to the apartment he shared with Natalie, or to find a place on his own.
Dr. Talbot has also met with Natalie on two occasions. Natalie is very concerned about Kevin. She doesn’t know how she can help him and isn’t sure whether she wants to live with him again. Dr.Talbot validates these feelings and believes that some family therapy sessions would greatly benefit Kevin and Natalie. Dr. Talbot sets up a meeting time for Natalie, Kevin, and Kevin’s parents. The session will give all of them a chance to figure out how they can work together to help Kevin stay healthy.
A comprehensive treatment plan is the most effective way to treat schizophrenia. This means that the most effective treatment includes many different parts. Most patients require medication, individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and family therapy in order to gain control over their illness.
As you might imagine, this can be very costly. A 2005 study investigating the economic burden of schizophrenia in the United States revealed that the overall cost of schizophrenia in 2002 exceeded $60 billion. More than half of this money goes to support people with schizophrenia who are unemployed because of their illness. Thus, although treatment is expensive, the biggest expense is the cost of supporting people with schizophrenia who are unable to work. Considering the high economic burden of schizophrenia, everyone benefits from making accessibility of treatment for schizophrenia a priority.
Heather Barnett Veague, Ph.D.
Heather Barnett Veague attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and received her Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University in 2004. She is the author of several journal articles investigating information processing and the self in borderline personality disorder. Currently, she is the Director of Clinical Research for the Laboratory of Adolescent Sciences at Vassar College. Dr. Veague lives in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.