Psychosis is a severe mental disorder, in which thoughts and emotions are impaired and the patients lose their contact with external world.
People with psychosis tend to gain weight more than healthy people, and their heart health and metabolic functions can be harmed by their lifestyle and anti-psychosis drugs.
Some studies show that in only 6-8 weeks after the start of psychosis treatment, the patients metabolic functions had some bad changes.
To solve the problem, scientists have developed ‘lifestyle interventions’ to help psychosis patients become healthier.
These interventions aim to change the diet and physical activity in psychosis patients.
In one recent study published in BMC Psychiatry, a group of UK researchers examined whether a lifestyle intervention could be accepted by psychosis and whether the intervention could lead to good outcomes.
The lifestyle intervention in the study is called InterACT. It means using intervention to encourage activity, healthy diet, and control body weight gain.
This intervention is developed from a large group of published research done by service users, carers and health professionals.
The lifestyle intervention was delivered to psychosis patients by service people who received training. They tried to provide health information, correct unhelpful beliefs, and help patients build health goals.
The patients also received an InterACT healthy living booklet and website information.
To test the lifestyle intervention, the researchers recruited patients who had experienced a recent episode of psychosis.
25 patients completed the 1-year intervention and finished an interview. They talked about how the life intervention helped create momentum for change in their life.
The intervention helped them overcome low motivation, low confidence towards physical health.
The patients also talked about the intervention increased their motivation through setting positive goals. They made food and exercise diaries, weight measurement and rating goals.
The intervention also helps the patents developed a healthy living knowledge base. The patients said they understood more about the importance of good physical health.
They found physical activities became more enjoyable and would like to continue to do them.
Finally, the intervention helped patients build strong social support. Some patients’ family and friends enquired about their progress and accompanied them on walks or improved their diet.
One interesting thing is that in trying to help the participant, family and friends also developed more interest in healthy living themselves.
All patients had a good relationship with their social workers who conducted the lifestyle intervention. This is especially true when the worker had a similar age, matched gender, or shared their goals to lose weight.
The outcome shows that the patients felt happy about their body weight control. About half of the people lose lots of weight and the rest expressed their relief in having prevented any further weight gain.
To summarize, the study shows lifestyle interventions can be accepted by psychosis patients and can have good outcomes.
The researchers suggest that skilled social workers and personalized program are very important.
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