Outlook for the Future
Three months after his hospitalization, Kevin returned home to live with his parents. It has been a difficult adjustment, but he feels like he is getting better every day. Kevin was in the hospital for two months and then lived in a community home for the mentally ill for four weeks. Because his parents live within walking distance of his treatment program, Kevin plans to stay with them until he is ready to be on his own.
Dr. Talbot and the rest of Kevin’s treatment team are pleased with Kevin’s progress. Kevin takes his medication regularly and goes to his treatment meetings every day. He monitors what he eats, how much he sleeps, and any change in behavior or thoughts.
He walks to the hospital every day and works out in the gym three times a week. As a result, Kevin is in good shape and has lost the weight he gained as a side effect of his medication. Kevin keeps a journal and reviews it with Dr. Talbot once a week. Keeping a journal helps Kevin identify warning signs of potential relapse. So far, he feels pretty good.
In order to support himself, Kevin has decided to apply for Social Security Disability Income. His case manager is helping him fill out the paperwork. Although Kevin would like to return to the radio station, he’s not sure whether he is ready for the stress of a daily job. He’s thinking that he will volunteer there a few hours a week to begin, and, if he continues to improve, he may return to work in a few months.
As for Natalie, she visits Kevin several times a week. She is relieved to see him doing so well and has told him that he may move back in with her if he chooses. Natalie meets with Dr. Talbot individually from time to time and also goes to family therapy sessions. Surprisingly, Kevin’s illness has helped their whole family grow closer. They are all working as a team to support Kevin and one other. Kevin has a long road to recovery, but he is well on his way.
Although there are several types of treatment for schizophrenia, there still is no cure. Some patients have such severe symptoms that they do not respond to any existing treatments. Others find the side effects from medication too bothersome, so for them the costs of treatment outweigh the benefits. There remain many questions about schizophrenia that can only be answered by thoughtful research. For example, exactly how effective are existing treatment methods?
How do we figure out how well a treatment program works?
What can we do next to help treat the next generation of schizophrenia sufferers?
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.