BEER YAAKOV, ISRAEL. The main symptoms of schizophrenia are delusions and hallucination and these can often be managed with antipsychotic medication. However, schizophrenics also tend to be anxious and depressed, lacking in motivation and initiative to pursue a goal, and to suffer from the absence of pleasure from the performance of acts that would normally be pleasurable. These other negative symptoms are much more difficult to treat. Researchers at the Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center now report that daily supplementation with the steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) can markedly reduce anxiety, depression and other negative symptoms.
Their clinical trial involved 27 schizophrenics between the ages of 20 and 67 years (15 men and 12 women). The patients were randomized to receive either DHEA daily or a placebo for the 6-week trial period. The starting dose (first 2 weeks) was 25 mg/day (taken at 8 am); this was followed by 2 x 25 mg/day (taken at 8 am and 8 pm) for the next 2 weeks, and then 2 x 50 mg/day (taken at 8 am and 8 pm) for the remainder of the trial. This regimen brought circulating DHEA and DHEAS levels to the range found in health 20- to 30- year-olds.
The researchers noted a marked decrease in anxiety, depression and other negative symptoms among the
DHEA-treated patients and conclude that DHEA supplementation may be useful in alleviating these
symptoms in schizophrenia patients although, clearly, larger trials are required to confirm this.