Schizophrenia is a common mental illness worldwide, affecting 1 in 100 people. Still many are unaware of what it really means. Even patients who receive treatment for this illness have very limited knowledge about the same.
Schizophrenia - rather than calling it as a disease of mind, it could be aptly called as the disease of the BRAIN. That is because of the subtle changes in the structure & functioning of the brain which is seen in schizophrenics.
Many a time treatment gets delayed, sometimes even by many years as people fail to recognise it as a disease. Many seek help from faith healers, quacks or accept it as deliberate behaviour by the person. Valuable time gets lost due to this as early detection & treatment can improve the long term outlook for the person with this disease.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia:
- Getting suspicious of people, believing falsely & firmly that they might harm him or spy on him, talk about him
- Hearing voices inaudible to others or seeing things which others can't see
- Self care is neglected
- Talking insensible or irrelevant talk
- Sometimes can get abusive or aggressive towards others
- Poor work or academic performance & decline
- Prefer to remain isolated from others or poor communication
- Poor acceptance of the above problems (They believe they don't have any problem)
Causes of Schizophrenia:
- Heritability or genetics is the reason in majority of the cases.
- Chemical imbalance in brain eg. excess of the brain chemical dopamine.
- Complications in pregnancy, delivery or after birth can affect the baby's brain & increase the risk.
- Prolonged & heavy use of cannabis in young people at an early age can predispose to schizophrenia in high risk individuals.
1) Timely diagnosis & treatment by a trained mental health professional like psychiatrist is essential to improve the functioning of the patient. Diagnosis is based on the information provided by the caretakers & patient along with the observation of the person's behaviour & a formal assessment session.
2) Antipsychotic medication are the mainstay of the treatment. They help to correct the chemical imbalance of the brain & improve the symptoms. Newer medications have helped to improve the patients functioning as well.
3) Counselling of the family & patient (once he is out of psychosis) can help.
Currently many patients with Schizophrenia face stigma & abuse due to which they are reluctant to open up about their problems & to seek help. Our aim as a responsible society should be to reintegrate such patients into the community & help them function to the best of their abilities. This is very much possible by efforts to educate ourselves about these illnesses & encourage them to seek treatment.