This overview is meant to increase awareness among families, caregivers, health workers, and other community public service providers about Schizophrenia or psychosis, and the care of the severely mentally ill or emotionally ill, or Schizophrenic persons.
This is also meant to help us know about the prevention of relapse of symptoms of Schizophrenia or psychosis.
False Belief or Myths People Have About Schizophrenia or Psychosis
o Schizophrenia or psychosis is due to "possession by demons" or witchcraft or other supernatural causes.
o Patients pretend or invent their behaviors.
o Drugs, alcohol, or bad company are the only causes of Schizophrenia or psychosis.
o Schizophrenic patients are more violent than non-schizo patients.
o Schizophrenia or psychosis is contagious.
o Schizophrenics are criminals.
o Schizophrenics should be locked up in the hospital for life.
o Schizophrenics are useless.
So what is Schizophrenia or Psychosis?
Schizophrenia or Psychosis is a major mental illness just like any other physical illness. It is major because it has a great effect on every aspect of a patient's life at home, school, and at work.
And what causes Schizophrenia or Psychosis?
o Schizophrenia or Psychosis is caused by imbalance of brain chemicals
o Schizophrenia often develops during periods of stress
o The risk for developing Schizophrenia or Psychosis is greater if you have a parent, brother, sister, identical twin, or any blood relative what developed Schizophrenia or Psychosis.
Schizophrenia symptoms involve disturbances in thinking, feeling, and behavior, like:
o hearing voices when no one is around
o strange beliefs
o unusual speech
o strange behavior
o emotional disturbances
o lack of energy or initiative
As a result of the above disturbances, people may have the following Schizophrenia effects or difficulty:
o managing daily activities, including leisure and recreation
o managing social interactions, work, or studies
What is the Treatment for Schizophrenia or Psychosis?
o Schizophrenia or Psychosis is usually a life-long illness. However many of the the unpleasant symptoms can be reduced with medications.
o Family members and friends can help their patients go back to their usual activity and handle stress more effectively.
Families may ask professional help for these early warning signs of Schizophrenia or Psychosis:
o Self isolation
o Poor sleep and appetite
o Lack of concentration
o Inability to perform usual daily activities
o Violent emotions or reactions
What should the family or caregiver do during periods of relapse or severe symptoms?
o Recognize the early warning signs:
- Irregular sleeping and eating patterns
- Refusal to take medications
- Reappearance of disturbances like:
- hearing voices when no one is around
- strange beliefs
- unusual speech
- strange behavior
- emotional disturbances
- lack of energy or initiative
o Bring the patient immediately for consultation at the nearest emergency psychiatric section for immediate and rapid care.
o Observe the patient's sign and symptoms at home daily and bring him for outpatient consultation as advised by the physician or as necessary.
o Directly supervise the patient's intake of medications.
Patients fail to take their prescribed medications when they are:
o living alone or unsupervised
o experiencing side effects
o taking other or multiple medications
o undergoing very long-term treatment
o know to refuse medication in the past
What should the family or caregiver do when their patient improves?
o Continue directly supervising the patient's daily intake of medications.
o Check prescriptions for (changes in) the daily dosage of tablets as prescribed
o Identify immediately the time when the patient refuses to take his daily medications or refuse to return for follow-up check-up.
o Ask other family members or friends to check for any left-over tablets or tablets hidden or thrown away.
o Never force the patient into doing activities which he/she cannot or is not yet ready to do.
o Never criticize or insult the patient.
o Praise the patient for his good behavior or for even small accomplishments.
o Make sure you know the date of the next check-up of the patient and bring him on the scheduled date.
The emergency psychiatric care unit of a hospital can help Schizophrenics and their families by providing these services:
o Emergency psychiatric care for the severely disturbed patient
o Out-patient psychiatric follow-up care
o Family education
o Occupational and recreational therapy
Next: Schizophrenia Introduction