Scientists Aim to Help Young Schizophrenics
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2009 7:00 PM CDT
Ann Lovegren Conley, a family nurse practitioner at the University of Southern Maine, talks to a patient on the university's Portland, Maine campus.   (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)
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(Newser) – Schizophrenia experts are using a grab-bag of tools to help young people experiencing early signs of the disease, the AP reports. Hormone research, DNA studies, and brain scans are helping patients in the early "prodrome" phase, before deeper psychosis sets in. Many sufferers are trying the 8-year-old PIER program, used in 20 US clinics, which stresses social life and family time over anti-psychotic drugs.

Experts still don't know why patients experience bouts of depression and hallucination, which can suddenly vanish. They say drugs can dampen symptoms, but may not prevent psychosis and often lead to weight gain. PIER advocates stress social interaction: "If you dim your social life, it makes it easier for your brain to hallucinate and develop strange ideas," says one Yale professor.