A Stony Brook University-led study reveals that, despite the common view that early intervention in schizophrenia slows or stops mental decline, those who receive early intervention eventually experience the same declines as those whose treatment started later. The finding, published online in The American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that studies of schizophrenia should take into account how long study participants have been symptomatic, otherwise treatments may appear more effective than they actually are.
The authors conclude in their study that the association between the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) and psychosocial function in schizophrenia may be an artifact of early detection, creating the illusion that early detection is associated with improved outcomes. Given this finding, they emphasize that shortening DUP does not necessarily change long-term illness course. DUP may be more of an indicator of illness stage than a predictor of course.