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Schizophrenia: The Misunderstood Malady

Despite more than 24 Million people worldwide suffering its effects, Schizophrenia is unfortunately largely misunderstood, and very often, misdiagnosed. Besides being brushed aside as being nothing more than a ‘bad patch’ in one’s life, or an ‘attention seeking tactic’, when correctly identified, this disorder leads to an onslaught of social exclusion that only serves to worsen its effect. It’s thus important we learn more about this affliction, so we may help those who suffer from it, rather than make their lives tougher.

Understanding Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe form of mental illness that combines a number of disastrous symptoms and conditions including:

Delusions (beliefs that do not change, even when they are proved wrong with facts)
Hallucinations (clear and vivid experiences of things which are not really happening)
Incoherent speech(a great impairment to communication; from giving unrelated responses, to misusing grammar, or incessantly switching conversation topics)
Diminished ability to express emotions (flat, expressionless gaze, inability to cry or express joy, inappropriate laughter or crying)
Disorganized, Antisocial or Withdrawn behavior
Oversleeping or insomnia
Schizophrenia usually involves seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there by blurring the line between fiction and reality.

Some Misconceptions about Schizophrenia and their Corresponding TrutSchizophrenia is a rare condition Over 250,000 people in England itself are afflicted

Schizophrenia cannot be cured Only if you subscribe to the notion that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ i.e. given enough time, attention, patience and care, it can be cured, or minimized to a level where it does not interfere with normal functioning of the human brain
Schizophrenics cannot lead normal lives Cases of violence or disruptive behavior are marginal as compared to the number of cases where schizophrenics are able to lead well-functioning lives, plagued only by certain episodes here and there; they are however completely capable of having a conversation, and being a part of most human relationships without too much of trouble
Schizophrenia looks the same in all its patients It varies in intensity, symptoms and effects in every individual patients, with there being virtually no identifiable patterns amongst its patients based on any measurable criteria like age or geographical location
Schizophrenics hear their own voices in their heads The voices heard giving instructions, or having conversations are almost never of the patient themselves, but of someone else in their life who appears to have taken on a personality or certain traits that they don’t actually possess
Schizophrenics made “A Beautiful Mind” Contrary to what Pop Culture would have us believe, “A Beautiful Mind” was a largely inaccurate portrayal of the disease, though it certainly helped to raise awareness about it.
It was based on the inspiring life of Nobel-prize winning mathematician, John Forbes Nash, and depicted his struggle with the disease, which appeared in his early 30s.
According to Addiction Health Magazine, “Nash himself has pointed out that the movie portrayed him as having primarily visual delusions, whereas his delusions in real life were mostly mental and auditory”.
The movie also shows how Dr. Nash “willed himself to beat the disease”; Dr. Nash might have been one of a small minority of patients whose symptoms improve later in life, without drugs.
Today, psychiatrists agree, medications, with a milder side effect profile, are the center of a treatment that hopes to improve the quality of life of its patients,” says Dr. Roberto B. Gil, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and director of the schizophrenia research unit at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

When it appears

Unlike virtually every other mental disorder or illness, Schizophrenia is rather unique in that its onset is nearly always in young adulthood — not childhood or as a teen, and rarely after one’s 30s. Most people who are diagnosed with Schizophrenia have their first symptoms and episode in their 20s — early to mid-20s for men, a little later (late-20s) for women. This is one of things that make it such a devastating condition- just when young adults are ready to start their lives; schizophrenia strikes.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Pilot programs in a few developing countries (e.g. India, Iran, Pakistan, Tanzania, Guinea-Bissau) have demonstrated the feasibility of providing care to people with severe mental illness through the primary health care systems by ensuring appropriate training of health care personnel, provision of essential drugs, strengthening of knowledge among families having a schizophrenic family member, referral support from mental health professionals, and public education to decrease stigma and discrimination, which many patients feel is worse than the actual symptoms.

If you know someone suffering from Schizophrenia, make sure you are sensitive to their condition, but not condescending or discriminatory. A little love and care goes a long way.

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cloudchowk is a healthcare software company based out of Delhi. Its software help medical labs, clinics and patients share information and collaborate seamlessly.

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