- Mental Health
Supplements and Schizophrenia
Every country has its share of people who suffer from schizophrenia and the numbers just keep going up. What exactly is schizophrenia? Wikipedia describes it as ‘a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental disorder characterized by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality'. With so many millions afflicted all over the world, it is a condition that makes life so miserable not just for the sufferer but also for everyone around him.
Part of the problem is perception. Anything that is a deviant from manmade ‘normal' norms is viewed as abnormal and undesirable and must needs be labeled. One would have thought that with so much advancement in science and technology, there would be an opening up of minds - of more acceptance but that is not what has happened yet. While the Internet has given the loners, the depressed, the schizophrenics an escape route, the world still has a long way to go before it can totally accept what it sees as different. For that, we need open minds and a lot of respect for others - characteristics we sadly lack.
From a sufferer's point of view, besides having fingers pointed at him, what he goes through is unbearable. Delusions, hallucinations, voices in the head..... he wants out because he knows that it's not the norm - or rather he has been brought up to believe that it is not. When a little child prattles on about what her toys said to her or what her imaginary friend would like, we find it ‘cute' - but let the child grow up and if she or he hasn't put away what for us are ‘childish things', there's hell to pay. So from ‘Something's wrong with me' to a guilt complex is a quick step. Think of how different things could be if only we brought up our kids to think differently!
There seems to be a ray of hope however for schizophrenia. At the recent International Biological Psychiatry Convention in San Diego, there were papers presented about a micronutrient supplement diet that could just prove extremely helpful as adjunctive therapy for this condition. If these claims are true, it could prove to be a boon both psychologically - for the person and his loved ones as well and monetarily - there are so many millions being spent on drugs for schizophrenics today, a lot of it is borne by the government.
The study basically tries to see the connection between schizophrenia and the omega 3 levels in the body. DHA or Docosahexaenoic acid is an omega 3 fatty acid which plays a very important role in brain cells. In people suffering from schizophrenia, it was noticed that there were very low levels of DHA. There was also impaired NGF or Nerve Growth Factor. The interesting thing that came up was also low levels of Vitamin B 12 and folic acid and because of this, the homocysteine levels were quite high. In other studies, it was noticed that some schizophrenics also suffered from low levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin B 3 and megadoses of these seemed to make the person feel much better. In some, there seemed a need for Niacin. What is called for is an individual deficiency chart to see what exactly the person concerned needs. Too simplistic? Sometimes, those are the cures that work!
If supplements can help ease the suffering of so many, it will be a boon indeed to not just the ones with this condition but to all around them too. It isn't easy being ‘different' in this world and walking to the beat of a different drummer. However, taking tranquilizers to conform just isn't a long term answer - and 90% of the ones diagnosed with this condition are put on drugs. If micronutrient supplements could let a ray of hope into the bleak world of those who suffer and could bring them out into the sunshine of normalcy, what sunny days lie ahead for a large number of people!