Describe and evaluate at least two biological therapies for schizophrenia (8+16)
One biological therapy for treating schizophrenia is the use of drugs that act on neurotransmitter pathways in synapses in the brain. There are two common types of drugs used to treat schizophrenia: conventional/typical antipsychotics and atypical antipsychotics.
Typical antipsychotics reduce the effects of dopamine and so reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia. They are dopamine antagonists in that they bind to dopamine receptors (particularly the D2 receptors) but do not stimulate them, thus blocking their action. By reducing stimulation of the dopamine system in the brain, antipsychotic drugs such as chlorpromazine can eliminate the hallucinations and delusions experienced by people with schizophrenia.
Many studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of typical antipsychotic medication have done so by comparing relapse rates with those on a placebo. For example, a review by Davis et al (1980) found a significant difference in terms of relapse rates between treatment and placebo in every study reviewed, thus demonstrating the therapeutic effectiveness of these drugs. However, a more recent analysis of that study by Ross and Read has suggested that its results were misleading: as all those studied, including those who took placebos, were on antipsychotics before this study began, it was, rather than a study comparing treat to non-treatment, a comparison between continued treatment and withdrawn treatment. Ross and Read suggest a significant proportion of the relapses in the placebo group can be explained by these withdrawal symptoms, leaving the conclusions drawn by Davis discredited.
In terms of appropriateness, critics have also pointed to the development of tardive dyskinesia- uncontrollable movements of the lips, tongue, face, hands and feet- in 30% of patients taking typical antipsychotics, with only 25% of these cases treatable. Some suggest that given this side effect,...