On World Schizophrenia Day, here is a glimpse into understanding the disease and the life of those who have schizophrenia and their family.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder. It may be caused be as a result of environmental and genetic factors. This means it can be transferred from parents to their children by genes or by the stressful environment in the family . Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, hearing voices that others do not, reduced social engagement and emotional expression, and a lack of motivation. It was considered a chronic degenerative illness meaning there are good days and bad days and bad days become worse with time if not treated. But recently with the development of newer and effective anti psychotic drugs and therapies, recovery is possible. Recovery which is labelled when that the person is employed, involved in family and relationships and can generally function in the world, on a daily basis with little or no impairment.
In my life as a young doctor, I have seen about 5 or 6 people with schizophrenia and some of my friends and family who have this . Yes! It is that common. Infact one in hundred people have this in our country. Although I have spent some time with them but their spouses, parents and children are the ones who spend all their time with them everyday. Its not easy for the family to really understand the disease and they are constantly full of questions for patient - “Why are you doing this? Cant you understand all of this is not real? Dont you love us enough to try these meds? We are not against you, we are trying to help you! “ We ask this when they are not in the right frame of mind to accept and answer these questions.
Imagine your family saying that what you feel and see are not real when you really feel it and see it. And above all being labelled “crazy” or “possessed by a spirit” .
Now, On the other hand, Imagine a support system where the family says we understand you have a disease, we will help you fight it with the help of a doctor with medications and counselling. This is the right thing to do even if it is not easy.
Even if the patient doesn’t agree to this.
You may need to make up your mind to not to show anger to the patient. You may need to say “Yes I understand what youre seeing” even when youre not.
You may need to give him the medications forcefully. And sometimes you may need to force the patient to get admitted to the hospital. But this is definitely the treatment your patient requires because schizophrenia is a form of psychosis wherein the patient loses touch with reality hence he cannot decide what is right for him.
What we as the family and friends don’t understand is that the person who is in front of us is not a REAL , its just a part of the disease where he is forced to be that person by his mind.He is suffering more than us. He is fighting every minute of the disease . He cannot answer our questions logically. So, Instead of blaming him, we must understand that he is not doing this because he wants to.
Its like acting a role in a movie but unable to come out of the role. He needs our help to come out of it. He needs medications, psychopathology sessions and above all a support system in the family. It is said that the prognosis of the disease is much better when the patient is in the same routine everyday and when everyone understands him. There is a big role of the family in doing this. So, we must realise that schizophrenia is a disease and it needs to be controlled with the help of a doctor and the understanding and support by the family of the patient.