There is too much stigma, misconceptions, shame and pity related to mental diseases or abnormalities in our country. Because of this stigmatisation, most of the sufferers fail to contact health personals and hinders the early diagnosis and treatment. This obstacle should be overcome for proper management of the disease. Awareness should be spread about this problem in order to make the patient’s lives easier as they not only have to suffer from this cruel disease but also the social out casting.
People now know that leprosy and tuberculosis do not happen because of curse of the Gods. They are able to understand that these diseases are caused by bacteria and it’s not patients fault or the wrath of the Gods. On similar lines, it should be understood that Schizophrenia is nobody’s fault. It’s just like any other health problems for which visiting a health care professional and treating it is must.
Schizophrenia is a serious brain/mental disorder. People suffering from schizophrenia have trouble in connecting to the reality as they have gotten an abnormal perception of the reality. It also affects or causes distortion in ways of thinking, emotion perception and ability to relate to other people. It is the most debilitating disease which is chronic and eats away the productive years of a patient.
The exact cause of this disease is not known, although it has shown a genetic/ familial disposition. Some other possible causes also include poor nutrition during fetal stage, age of the parents, drug abuse and certain infections. The symptoms typically present over a period of time. The disease starts showing symptoms in early ages of the adulthood and lasts for a long time. It also tends to appear in early twenties in men but late twenties in men. It is seen more commonly in men than in women.
Patients may experience auditory hallucinations (hearing voices), disorganised speech and behaviour, patient also might become delusional (false beliefs like someone is controlling their lives or reference delusions where patient believes that everyone is talking about him). They also may suffer from decreased emotions, loss of interest, inappropriate or lack of responses to queries as well as social withdrawal. Symptoms like sloppy dressing and attire, poor hygiene, lack of motivation and judgement are also common in these individuals. It also affects learning, retention memory, and capacity of understanding.
There are usually three phases in this disease cycle. First one is called as prodromal phase, in which patient becomes withdrawn and loses interest in his/her day to day activity. After which comes the active phase in which the individuals suffer from the severe symptoms of the disease like hearing voices, delusions, disorganised speech (not able to complete a sentence which is coherent, skips words, broken speech etc) and disorganised behaviour (staring into space, stupor like state etc). It is followed by a residual phase in which patients suffer from memory loss, inability to concentrate but they are completely lucid in this phase.
There is no confirmatory test to diagnose schizophrenia. The diagnosis is made from the patient’s history. To have a solid diagnosis of schizophrenia, the patient should at least have one symptom out of hallucination, delusion or disorganised speech. This should be present for a period of more than 6 months out of which the active phase should be present for at least a month.
Although schizophrenia cannot be cured, it can definitely be managed and treated. Psychological counselling and anti psychotic drugs are main stay of schizophrenia treatment.
It’s important to understand that the people suffering from schizophrenia are already under a lot of mental instability. It’s our duty to support these individuals emotionally as well as socially.