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06 Dec 2021, Edition - 2337, Monday

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Right medication, psychotherapy needed to tackle schizophrenia

Swathi Priya. P


May 24 was celebrated as world Schizophrenia Day. The word schizophrenia is derived from Greek ‘Schiz’ meaning split and ‘phrenia’ meaning mind.

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling – NIMH.

Bank employee Prasad (name changed), 35, yelled at nights, as he ‘saw’ a group of black dressed masked goons approaching him. He was frightened hearing their terrific voices and big footsteps. This was very disturbing to his wife all night, as she could neither see nor hear them. She blamed him for imagining things and disturbing everyone’s sleep at home.

He started isolating himself at home and office. He stopped expressing himself. He stopped enjoying his favourite snacks and watching movies.His performance at work came down and he was on the verge of losing his job.

Prasad was suffering from schizophrenia. He lost touch with some aspects of life and withdrew himself from reality. The group of goons whom he could see and hear was very much true to him. He had a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception.

Mina (name changed), an 18-year-old, college student, was rushed to India from the US to a psychiatric hospital after she got into trouble at college, as she broke down thinking that her classmates were mocking her and plotting against her, when no such incident actually took place.

She strongly felt that she had some special powers with which she could find out what other people thought in their mind. She believed that traffic signals had hidden cameras to watch her.

Mina was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She believed her perception to be true and acted according to it.

Cine artiste Jithin (name changed), 26, had been kept tied up at home and the family thought he had been haunted by evil spirits. He created a ruckus at shooting locations due to irrelevant conversations.

At home he recited mantras in a language which none could understand. His friends were annoyed over his impetuous behaviour. He would get aggressive with his parents when they tried to control his behaviour. He ran away from home a couple of times and was forcibly brought back. His family believed that only a ‘holy person’ could save their son.

Jithin too was suffering due to schizophrenia, which manifested in agitated speech and body movements.

Schizophrenia can occur during childhood too. Siri, 10, had complaints of dogs barking into his ears when there were no dogs at home nor in the neighbourhood. These noises were so disturbing in a way that he could not focus on his daily activities and studies.

The above stated cases give us some understanding about signs and symptoms of the illness. Schizophrenia can be of different types and manifests itself differently in different people. It usually starts manifesting during late adolescence or early adulthood, irrespective of gender.

This mental illness could occur due to genetic reasons (inheritance) and changes in the brain chemistry and structure.

A psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist will be the right person to diagnose schizophrenia. This illness needs proper medications and psychotherapy by trained professionals.

The role of mental health professionals will also be to create awareness about the illness and also guide the patient’s family members/caregivers to providing emotional support to deal with a person with such a tough and chronic illness.

The author of the column is Swathi Priya. P , Counselling Psychologist

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own

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