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Recovery from schizophrenia: is it possible?

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Schizophrenia has a heterogeneous range of end states, from severe cases requiring repeated hospitalization to cases in which a single illness episode is followed by complete remission. The purpose of the present review is to examine recent literature on recovery in schizophrenia, focusing on the predictive factors and on the possibility to achieve it.

RECENT FINDINGS: Roughly half of schizophrenia patients recovered or significantly improved over the long term, suggesting that functional remission is possible. Several factors predict the course of schizophrenia, including demographic, clinical, and treatment characteristics, as well as socioeconomic variables. Antipsychotics are a fundamental element of schizophrenia treatment, although the available antipsychotics have significant limitations. In this context, psychosocial interventions are supported by substantial evidence of efficacy in many outcome measures and rehabilitation interventions should be considered as an evidence-based practice and need to become a part of the standard treatment of schizophrenia.

SUMMARY: As recovery is a multidimensional concept, some authors suggested that at least two areas should be taken into account: clinical remission and social functioning. Functional outcome should be a priority target for therapeutic interventions in schizophrenia and in this perspective measuring treatment response, remission and functional recovery is essential. Only an integrated and multifaceted approach involving pharmacotherapy, psychosocial interventions, and attention to environmental circumstances can improve outcome in schizophrenia.

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