Living with Schizophrenia – Role of Family And Society In Rehabilitation Process
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder which is capable to affect the patient’s feelings and actions. Statistics shows that nearly 1% of the total adult population of the world is suffering from this disease. It usually appears in late adolescence or in early adulthood period of life. In USA, it is estimated that 1.1% of the adult population (age 18 and above) is having the attack of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is not similar to other mental disorders such as split personality or multiple personality. Schizophrenic patient shows withdrawn character and often shows difficulty in expressing normal emotions in related situations. Loss of personality, confusion, social withdrawal etc. is the initial symptoms of schizophrenia. Since the patient is having delusions and hallucinations as the symptoms of the disease, he/she may strongly doubt that others are controlling their thoughts or plotting against them.
Schizophrenic patient really needs assistance and support from the family and society. The family of the patient will be suffered greatly, when one of its members is suffering from schizophrenia. The patient does not have the ability to continue his/her regular job or work and also he/she has to rely on others for their personal functions also.
An Interview With A Schizophrenic Patient
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenic patients usually identified by some common symptoms that are associated with the disorder. They are delusion, disorganized speech, disorganized behavior, absence of normal behavior and hallucination. In addition to the delusions about eccentric ideas and fantasies, hallucinations (auditory and visual) about some matters that are closely related to the patients are also very common.
Disorganized speech is common among the schizophrenic patients because of their inability to concentrate on the main topic of conversation or because of rapid shifting from topic to topic etc. Usage of meaningless words or phrases and repetition of the statements are also common. Lack of motivation, unawareness about the illness and social withdrawal are also can be identified in these patients.
Schizophrenia-Overview & Symptoms
Causes of Schizophrenia – Is Schizophrenia Genetic?
- Dysfunction of the brain message service is the main cause of this disorder. Brain consists of a lot of nerve cells and the ending of these nerve cells release neurotransmitters (chemicals) for the communication between different cells. Improper functioning of this vital function is the cause of schizophrenia.
- Is schizophrenia genetic? Studies show that there is some relation exists between heredity and schizophrenia. A ten percent of the people with first-degree relationship (parents, siblings etc.) with a schizophrenic patient have higher risk for developing the disorder and the risk level is very high for identical twins. If any of the second-degree relative (cousins, aunts, uncles etc.) is having this disease, then also there is a chance for the attack of schizophrenia. But statistics shows that 60% of the total schizophrenic patients have no family members or other relatives with this disorder.
- Environmental and emotional factors also play some important roles in the development of schizophrenia. Premature birth or low oxygen levels during the birth, sexual abuse in early childhood, exposure to some virus during infancy and early loss of parental support etc. are some of the examples for these causes.
- Regular usage of some drugs such as cannabis and LSD will become the cause for the development of schizophrenia.
Types of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is classified into different types according to the nature of the symptoms shown by the patient. The important types are Paranoid Schizophrenia, Disorganized Schizophrenia, Residual Schizophrenia, Catatonic Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder.
Effects of Schizophrenia in Family and Society
The patient shows strong withdrawal symptoms and often complains about his/her delusions and hallucinations. Giving proper attention for the fulfillment of daily functions is not possible by the patient, so the other members of the family have to assist him/her to lead a normal life. The patient’s relationship with other members of the family and with the members of the society will be affected by his/her paranoid behavior.
Increased suicide risk is common among schizophrenic patients, so close attention by the family members is very necessary. As an effort to reduce the discomforts of the disease, the patient may use alcohol or drugs in increased quantities; smoking habit also may be increased. These bad habits will produce negative effects on the health of the patients and also it will reduce the effectiveness of the medicines prescribed by the doctor to cure the disorder.
Can Schizophrenia Be Cured?
There is no cure for schizophrenia, but with proper treatment and with social support many people with schizophrenia became able to lead productive lives.
The life of Nobel laureate John F Nash is an example for how to live with schizophrenia. He is a mathematician and worked as a professor at Princeton University in USA. He won Nobel Prize in 1994 and lived with paranoid schizophrenia most of his life. He managed to lead a normal life even without taking any medicines. ‘A Beautiful Mind’ is a Hollywood film made based on the life of John F Nash.
The right treatment for this disorder should be a combination of drug administration and implementation of different psycho social therapies. People with schizophrenia often do not admit that they need any medical assistance; so they resist any type of treatment at first. The most essential thing to do for helping the patient is to convince him/her about the importance of consulting a competent medical professional for getting relief from the discomforts of the disorder.
A psychiatrist will prescribe the medicines required, but family members or trained health professionals should co-ordinate different group activities for the improvement of the behavior aspect of the patient. The patient will get educated through these group activities and gradually become able to manage his/her day-to-day affairs without others help.
Anti-psychotic drugs will help to control the hallucinations and the delusions of the patients effectively. But there will be some side effects for these medicines which have to be tolerated by the patients. Some of the side effects of anti-psychotic medicines are blurred vision, constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth etc.
Psychotherapy or rehabilitation therapy will become useful for the patients because it will create confidence in them for doing regular functions such as personal hygiene, cooking, communicating etc. Therapies are not treatments and they should be coordinated along with appropriate medicines.
Specific programs should be planned and conducted in the community health centers for the rehabilitation of the schizophrenia patients of that locality. A trained health professional should act as the coordinator of these programs. Complete cure of this disorder is not possible normally, so lifelong support by the medicines and by the society is a must for the patient to lead a healthy and productive life. With enough support from the family and from the community, the patient will become able to lead a healthy life even without using medicines (or by using the medicines in reduced quantities) after getting recovery from the initial attack of schizophrenia.
Living With Schizophrenia
Most of the help should come from the family and from the community. Family members should always maintain calmness in their behavior to the patient and they should arrangements to get more help from the community support group. Also take a close watch for the timely intake of the medicines prescribed by the psychiatrist.
Since this disorder is not completely curable, the success of living with schizophrenia is based on the intake of the prescribed medicines and successful psycho-social rehabilitation programs, self-help groups, employment programs and therapy, counseling services that are available to the patients. Successful treatment for schizophrenia is aimed to get relief from the symptoms of the disorder and to restore the patient’s ability to function normally in the society.