World Schizophrenia Day 2018: Five myths and facts about schizophrenia

May 27, 2018

World Schizophrenia Day is celebrated May 24 annually. It aims to bring awareness about this mental disorder and thereby supports people who are suffering.

Schizophrenia has been classified as a mental illness. It is a serious and debilitating mental disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel, and behave clearly.

Schizophrenia is generally regarded as a very severe disease. People with the condition are undeservedly stigmatised and socially marginalized in almost every community around the world.

Since 1986, Schizophrenia Awareness Week (SAW) is held in May every year. This year, Schizophrenia Awareness Week is marked from the 20 to 27 May 2018. This coincides with the week of World Schizophrenia Awareness Day. The theme for this year’s SAW is ‘Do What You Can Do, asking people to join in taking action to beat stigma and promote inclusion.

Schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, affecting about one percent of the population. However, the symptoms can be very disabling. The person may suffer from symptoms like false beliefs, hallucinations (such as hearing voices which others don’t hear), unclear or confused thinking, a lack of motivation, disorganized speech or behaviour, reduced social engagement and emotional expression.

There is no cure for schizophrenia, but research is leading to new, safer treatments. With proper treatment, people suffering from this disorder can be a part of society and lead a productive life, says Era Dutta, MD (Psychiatry), DNB (Psychiatry), MBBS, Consultant Neuropsychiatrist & Therapist, Mind Wellness & Fortis Healthcare, Kolkata. Here, she dispels some of the more common myths and misconceptions about schizophrenia:

Myth #1: Schizophrenia needs life-long medication

Once labelled with schizophrenia, it doesn’t automatically mean that medications need to go on until the end of life. Psychiatrists take a call based on various factor and many patients are slowly weaned off the medication and never have an episode ever.

Myth #2: You shouldn’t marry a schizophrenia patient

This is another popular myth. In case, either you or your partner developed schizophrenia or any mental disorder post marriage. Would you abandon them? Or would you like to be abandoned? If the answer is no, then please do not discriminate. If someone can be treated and is functional, they have every shot at a happy life as others.

Myth # 3: Schizophrenic patients are violent

Contrary to the popular movie portrayal and the sensitised newspaper articles, most individuals suffering from the condition are rather victims of violence by family or outsiders. A few may get violent in an acute episode, but that too specifically towards family member for a short while. Even individuals without schizophrenia can be aggressive and violent, but sadly, often people with this condition are specifically discriminated. Hence, people suffering from the schizophrenia face numerous challenges and undergo unbearable pain both mentally and physically.

Myth # 4: Schizophrenics are dumb/ low in intelligence

The best example to bust this myth is John Nash, the professor who inspired the Oscar-winning film ‘A Beautiful Mind’. He was a Nobel laureate in Economics. Schizophrenia may affect cognition if untreated, but it doesn’t make anyone dumb or lower their intelligence. They can contribute to the world just as you and I do.

Myth # 5: Electroconvulsive therapy (ETC) is bad

ECT is a safe treatment technique. No, it doesn’t short-circuit your brain or wipe off your previous memories. It is done under anesthesia, just like any other operation, and hence, the patient doesn’t feel any pain or discomfort at all. Does it have any side effects? Like any medicine or treatment, it has a small side-effect profile but most patients don’t even face them.

 

 

 

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