APA Guideline for Treating Adults With Schizophrenia

The Editors, Medscape Mental Health

Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Health eJournal. 1997;2(3) 

In This Article

Treatment During the Stabilization Phase of Schizophrenia

The stabilization phase covers the first 6 months or more after the onset of an acute phase, during which acute psychotic symptoms decrease in severity.

The treatment goals during the stabilization phase are to minimize stress and provide support to prevent relapse, enhance the patient's adaptation to life in the community, facilitate continued reduction of symptoms, and consolidate remission.

During the stabilization phase, monitor the patient for at least 6 months on the same medications at the same dose used in acute phase. Prematurely lowering the dose or discontinuing medication can lead to relapse.

Less structure and direction is needed in the stabilization phase than in the acute phase. This is the time to reinforce patient education about the course and treatment of illness. Teach aspects of medication self-management, including the benefits of maintaining antipsychotics to lower the risk of relapse; approaches for managing drug side effects; and symptom self-management techniques, such as recognizing early warning signs of relapse, developing a relapse-prevention plan, and avoiding illicit substances and alcohol. Continuity in the treatment plan, from the acute phase through the stabilization phase, is critical. If the patient is hospitalized, for example, arrange for him to visit the outpatient residence, clinic, or psychiatrist's office where treatment will be continued.


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