January 16, 2005

Pets Can Help Schizophrenia Patients

A research team in the U.K. is studying how bringing a pet to therapy sessions can help the long-term recovery of people with schizophrenia.

A group of 10 schizophrenia patients who had animal-assisted therapy (dogs involved in therapy sessions) showed improved motivation, improved "hedonic tone" (an improved ability to enjoy things), and improved ability to use leisure time as compared to a group of 10 patients who did not have animals included in their therapy.

Ahedonia (inability to enjoy or take an interest in things) and lack of motivation are two of the most troubling symptoms of schizophrenia that are not well managed by medications. Alternate therapy programs such as animal-assisted therapy may be key to managing these symptoms during the course of chronic schizophrenia.

Although experts caution that more research needs to be done in this area before we know whether this sort of therapy can help the thousands of people with mental illness, the research team on this particular study hopes that animal-assisted therapy "may contribute to the psychosocial rehabilitation and quality of life of chronic schizophrenia patients."

Read the full article online at BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk): Pet therapy 'helps schizophrenia', Jan 15 2005

Read more about other treatments for schizophrenia symptoms and side effects that can be used in addition to medications. (http://www.schizophrenia.com/treatments.htm)


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