“There is no difference between acute schizophrenia and a world at war” ~ Gary Zukav
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that changes the way people think, feel, and act. The worst part of this mental disorder is that most people don’t have any idea about the warning signs of schizophrenia. Some people don’t even know that there is a mental disorder called schizophrenia. There is an overall lack of awareness, and that is a major problem in our country.
“Most people visit mental health clinics when it is too late.”
This is what Linda said when she was asked to speak something about schizophrenia in a conference on mental health in California. Linda’s mom is a chronic schizophrenic patient and is currently under medication.
Linda’s mom is a chronic schizophrenic patient for the last 25 years. Initially, her family members didn’t realize what was wrong with her mom. They thought she would recover with time naturally. But that didn’t happen. Later, they consulted a general physician and gave her medicines for depression.
“Back then, we didn’t know anything about schizophrenia. We gave her medicines. She was fine for a few days and we stopped the medicines. Her condition became worse after that. It was a very tough time for us. We didn’t have any mental peace. She used to fight with dad each and every day. She used to talk to herself. She used to call people over the phone and abuse them verbally. She used to hallucinate and lived in an imaginary world.”
After 12 years of suffering, Linda’s dad saw a program on mental health organized by SavantCare. He booked an appointment for Dr. David Brody and consulted him immediately. Dr. Brody told him that he was late but he would try his best. Dr. Brody informed him and Linda that the patient was suffering from chronic schizophrenia and they should have consulted a psychiatrist several years ago.
Dr.David Brody’s medicines worked like a miracle. Linda’s mom showed remarkable signs of improvement after a few weeks of taking medicines. She stopped hallucinating, started talking coherently, behaved normally with everyone, became polite and timid. Her aggressiveness was gone and so was her other schizophrenic symptoms. Linda’s mom is leading a normal life right now.
Linda feels her childhood wouldn’t have been ruined if her mom was properly treated on time. It’s true that her mom has to take medicines throughout her life. But at least, all of them can lead a normal life henceforth.
It’s important to be proactive
Linda’s case is not an exceptional one in our country. It’s a very common case and if we seriously want to change the scenario, then we have to take a few proactive steps like:
1. Spreading awareness about mental disorders like schizophrenia. Talking about the warning signs and symptoms so that people can get prompt and better mental health care right now.
2. Encouraging people to consult a psychiatrist because let’s face it, social stigma is still there in our society.
3. Motivating patients to take medicines and consult psychiatrists periodically.
Today, we will talk about a few symptoms of schizophrenia so that many families are saved and many schizophrenic patients can lead a normal life, albeit a bit early.
5 Common symptoms of schizophrenia
In rare cases, schizophrenia appears abruptly and without any warning. But in most cases, signs are already there. We overlook them and face the repercussions later on. Here are the 5 common symptoms of schizophrenia we should never ignore.
1. Hallucinations: Does your loved one hallucinate? Well, that is a primary symptom of schizophrenia. Schizophrenic patients can’t differentiate between what’s real and what’s not. Linda’s mom used to hear voices and respond to them. Sometimes, she used to shout a lot whenever voices used to say mean things to her.
There have been days when Linda has returned home and heard strange stories from her mom. Sometimes, she used to say that President Obama visited her home in the morning and gave her nice suggestions about life.
2. Delusions: Schizophrenic patients have strange beliefs which anybody can prove wrong. But they stick to those beliefs. Linda’s mom didn’t talk about private matters when she used to watch TV. She never changed her dress in front of the TV because she thought that the actors could see her. In fact, she used to believe that film personalities talked to her through the TV.
That was not all. Linda stopped interacting with some people because her mom didn’t like it. Her mom used to think that those people could control traffic and harm her when she went to college.
3. Depression: One of the primary traits of schizophrenia is depression. Schizophrenic patients are often depressed. They are hopeless about their future. They don’t feel anything. They don’t have any drive to do anything in life. They are demotivated and don’t have any enthusiasm in life. Sometimes, they feel nothing at all.
4. Incoherent speech: Schizophrenic patients have problems in organizing their thoughts. They often talk animatedly but without any logical connection between the lines. Sometimes, they can’t even follow you correctly when you speak to them. Their words often come out jumbled and don’t make any sense.
5. Abnormal and erratic behavior: Sometimes, these patients are giddy. Sometimes, they are angry and aggressive. When they are giddy, they laugh continuously without any reason. But when they are angry, their anger is completely uncontrollable.
Linda has seen her mom hurting dad physically. Linda says, “Worst days were when mom used to be angry. She hurled abuses, fought with dad, beat him, and leave him with scars.”
Few other warning signs
Schizophrenic patients don’t maintain proper personal hygiene. Some patients don’t even like to take shower.
Some schizophrenic patients are always afraid that other people will harm them.
Schizophrenic patients are suspicious in nature. They don’t trust anybody. Linda once said, “Mom used to suspect that dad had multiple affairs with all the friends and relatives. She even used to accuse friends and family members openly. This used to create misunderstandings with relatives.”
Schizophrenic symptoms in teenagers
It’s tough to recognize the schizophrenia symptoms in teenagers. However, some common symptoms are:
1. Lack of motivation – Teenagers are demotivated. They don’t have any urge to study, interact with family members or play with friends.
2. Depression – They have a depressed mood all the time. They talk less and love to remain silent. They get easily irritated.
3. Lack of sleep – They can’t sleep properly at night. They tend to stay awake most part of the night.
Schizophrenic patients aren’t aware that they have a mental disorder. They won’t even realize that there is something wrong with them. Some patients don’t even agree to visit mental health clinics or take medicines. That’s a challenge. You have to convince patients and take them to a psychiatrist. Offer encouragement and find a qualified mental health professional for the patient.
Your job is not done after consulting a psychiatrist. Rather, you have an additional responsibility in your life. You have to ensure that the patient is taking medicines on time. You have to monitor his/her progress and inform the psychiatrist accordingly.
Schizophrenia is not permanently curable. It needs lifelong treatment. Medications, counseling, and therapies can help to keep the conditions under control. But this doesn’t mean that patients can lead a normal life without proper medical treatment. So it’s mandatory to be in constant touch with a qualified and an experienced psychiatrist.
Author Bio –
Ralph Macey is associated with SavantCare for quite sometime now. His work involves removing the social stigma associated with chronic mental disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia, ADHD, depression, loneliness, PTSD, etc. His work focuses on the integrated interventions to improve mental health and the alternative approaches to healing. You can connect with him on Facebook.
I truly appreciate Ralph sharing this amazing article regarding schizophrenia, and the symptoms to look out for. It’s very important to recognize the symptoms early, so treatment can become available as soon as possible. Thank you again Ralph, for sharing this extremely important information.
If you have information on a mental health topic you’d like to share, or your own personal experiences, please visit my page to share your story for more information on how to do so.