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24 Jan 2019, Edition - 1290, Thursday

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Schizophrenia – Do what you can to beat the stigma

Dr. V. Umamaheswari

World Schizophrenia Day is observed on May 24 to bring awareness about the illness and reduce stigma. The theme of this year is `Do what you can do’, asking people to join to beat stigma against schizophrenia and include them as part of the society and provide them equal opportunities.

Schizophrenia is one of the mental illnesses. It is not that common and affects just 1 per cent of the population


It disturbs the individual thought process, belief and perception and makes one dysfunctional.


Hallucinations: Hearing voices when no one is speaking. The voice can be threatening (they would kill him, his family members) or command him (not to eat, to jump, to commit suicide) or give running commentary about the actions the patient is doing.

False beliefs: Believing that people are against him, following him, doing black magic against him, talking about him despite proving that it is not so.

Lack of motivation

Poor personal care

Appears as if lost in his own imaginative world

Appears as if talking to someone

When confronted or argued they at times become irritable and violent

Can’t express their emotions, decrease social engagement

Unable to fulfill their responsibilities like academic decline, not going for job, not taking care of family.


Research on this is still continuing. However, the proposed hypothesis is that there is chemical imbalance in the brain


1. MYTH: It is not a common illness. Me and my beloved won’t get it.

FACT: It is a common illness. Out of every 100 individuals one will get afflicted.

2. MYTH: Patients are violent.

FACT: Contrary to movie portrayal, they are not violent. In fact, they are victims of violence by family members or outsiders. Untreated persons do get violent, particularly only when they are confronted.

3. MYTH: They can’t get married.

FACT: When treated and functional they can get married and have a normal family life.

4. MYTH: We need to take medicines for life long.

FACT : If the person comes sooner for treatment after the onset of problem, not using substance, regularly takes medicines and has no relapse of symptoms, medications can be stopped after some time.

The author is Dr. V. Umamaheswari Consultant Psychiatrist, K.G. Hospitals,Coimbatore

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

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