World Schizophrenia Day: 24th May

New Delhi, May 23, 2018. Schizophrenia, a severe form of mental illness affecting about 10 people per thousand of the adult population, can lead to suicide in 25 per cent of its patients if left untreated, said psychiatrists.

About 90% ofpeople with untreated schizophrenia are in developing countries includingIndia. In India, for a population of nearly one billion people, there are anestimated four million people with schizophrenia, with different degrees ofimpact on some 25 million family members. The illness afflicts people mostly inthe 16-45 age group.

Dr. Nimesh GDesai, Director of Institute of Human Behaviour and Applied Sciences (IHBAS),New Delhi said that schizophrenia is a serious mental illness but its treatmentis becoming progressively better with the help of research. Stressing the needfor creating awareness and providing scientific information about mentalillnesses like schizophrenia, he said that both the doctors and the caregiversshould also be made aware of the legal aspects of the disease.  

Dr.  Desaisaid it is possible that the New Act for Mental Health (the Mental HealthcareAct, 2017), which is to be implemented from next month, will make the legalframework of mental illnesses like schizophrenia more complicated. Under such circumstances,it also becomes imperative to take into account human rights of the patients.

Suicide is amajor cause of death among patients with schizophrenia and about 25% ofschizophrenic patients can die by suicide if left untreated, said Dr. ManuTiwari, senior psychiatrist of Fortis Healthcare.

Dr. Tiwarisaid, “hopelessness, social isolation, hospitalization, deteriorating healthafter a high level of premorbid functioning, recent loss or rejection, limitedexternal support, and family stress or instability are risk factors for suicidein patients with schizophrenia. Suicidal schizophrenics usually fear furthermental deterioration, and they experience either excessive treatment dependenceor loss of faith in treatment.”

Dr. AvaniTiwari, senior psychiatrist at Manas Ganga Centre, Noida said that protectivefactors play also an important role in assessing suicide risk and should alsobe carefully evaluated. Once these symptoms are noticed, the person should beseen by Psychiatrist to ascertain the diagnosis. The earlier the treatmentbetter is the response. Recovery in Schizophrenia is possible and that is whateveryone involved with it is aiming for. The team of Psychiatrists andPsychologists along with the family members works hard to get the person backto his social life.

Dr. ManuTiwari, Director of Manas Ganga Centre, Noida said that when we did a surveyamong families of Person living with Schizophrenia about attitudes ofcaregivers towards the patients, it was observed that the frequencies ofcritical comments, hostility, and emotional over-involvement were high.

According toDr. Rajesh Kumar, consultant Psychiatrist at Cosmos Institute of Mental Health& Behavioral Sciences (CIMBS), New Delhi, it is still unknown whySchizophrenia happens, it includes environmental as well as genetic causes.But, it is very important to receive proper treatment as soon as possible. Itis a common myth that schizophrenia cannot be treated. But, it can be cured.

Dr. RajeshKumar said that there is still a lot of stigma associated with people sufferingfrom severe mental illnesses. If a person is diagnosed with schizophrenia, thenmost of the times the family tries to hide the person from the society. Thepatients are then not taken out for family functions or are kept behind closeddoors when there are guests visiting. This affects the patientsnegatively."

“Awarenessamong the general population about mental illnesses and symptoms associatedwith these diseases can help create more acceptance for patients in society.People should understand that negative remarks or rejection shown towardspatients with mental illnesses affects them negatively and so should beavoided," Dr. Manu Tiwari adds.

The 24thof May is celebrated the world over as World Schizophrenia Day to raiseawareness about the disease ranks among the top 10 causes of disability.

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