Sunday, August 02, 2009

Schizophrenics - A New Once-Monthly Antipsychotic Now Available

image by littleman,

A New Choice Available To People With This Condition

The inability to distinguish between reality and hallucination - this is what distinguishes schizophrenics from the rest of humanity. Like the virtual worlds that we see in computer simulation applications, the schizophrenic weaves a whole fantasy world that exists only in their mind. And they dwell in this world often for long times, only to occasionally emerge to reconnect with the others.

image by k_vohsen,

Psychopharmacological interventions for this neuropsychiatric condition require consistent and regular medication. However, it has been found that consistency in taking oral medications is the first casualty. People simply miss popping the tablets on time, or they discontinue medication altogether, due to a host of reasons - side effects, absence of support from family or society, non-affordability are just a few. For schizophrenics, the consequence of this non-adherence to medication is relapse, usually at least once within five years of diagnosis. And relapse in the case of schizophrenia leads to worse degeneration compared to other major mental illnesses, with an increased risk for suicide and mortality. Getting them to continue taking medications, therefore, is a major challenge facing researchers.

image by lokigrl1616,

In this backdrop, a new alternative to oral medication has been recently approved by the FDA. "Invega Sustenna", manufactured by Janssen, a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharma Inc, is administered as an injection in the deltoid muscle. After the first injection, the second injection is given 8 days later; and then for all subsequent injections the patient has to visit the doctor once a month. What does this drug do? Consistent administration delays the relapse - the schizophrenic continues to stay rooted into reality for a longer duration, and is held back from reentering their world of hallucinations and fantasies.

image by scyza,

Like most psychopharmacological interventions, the Invega Sustenna too comes with a long list of caveats. This drug cannot be given to the elderly - it puts them to a higher risk of death. Some people have been found to develop symptoms such as high fever, rigidity in muscles or twitching and / or jerky movements in the body (Tardive Dyskinesia) or seizures, profuse sweating, akathisia or restlessness, abnormal change in heart rhythm, high blood sugar and diabetes, obesity, sexual dysfunction, dizziness, sleepiness,... and this is just a partial list. When the patient is under the Invega Sustenna treatment, rigorous care and careful monitoring by family members is therefore called for.

image by soulmyst,

Side-effects are unfortunately a way of life with modern medicine. Taking full cognizance of the side-effects, given that the injections are an improvement over the earlier oral tablets to the extent that they can at least prevent the missing out of the dosage administration, schizophrenics now have on offer one more choice to not return to their personal world of hallucinations, and to get well.

image by xymonau,

[It is all quite well to say that medications have side-effects, and that one must be careful about them. But is there any side-effect-free, non-psychopharmacological intervention that can address mental health conditions such as schizophrenia without any pain and without any tears? Turns out that such an intervention is emerging on the medical horizon. This article discusses: "Exploring The Fourth State Of Consciousness".]

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