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Oestrogen could ease schizophrenia


New research has revealed that combining oestrogen with routine medication can help relieve psychotic symptoms in women with schizophrenia.

An Australian study, the results of which are published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that the oestrogen estradiol could be especially effective for women affected by schizophrenia who undergo hormonal changes, which seem to cause deterioration of their conditions.

Researchers at The Alfred and Monash University and The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne looked at the effects of estradiol, in combination with regular medication such as atypical antipsychotic agents, in 56 women of child-bearing age with schizophrenia. The results were compared with those of a second group of 46 women who were given a placebo.

The results showed that the estradiol group reported a reduction in their psychotic symptoms – such as delusions and hallucinations – in comparison with the group taking the placebo. They also experienced a decline in so-called positive symptoms of the disease, such as distorted thinking. But there was no change in negative symptoms, such as social or emotional withdrawal.

“Oestrogen treatment is a promising new area for future treatment of schizophrenia and potentially for other severe mental illnesses,” the report’s authors concluded.

Copyright PA Business 2008

Archives of General Psychiatry

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