Medicines, counselling, therapy and family support – the four pillars to treat schizophrenia

A person affected by schizophrenia is disowned by the family and left alone on the streets as a destitute. Doctors and psychologist say that support by the family is crucial in reintegrating the patient with society and without the support of the family the treatment becomes difficult

Medicines, counselling, therapy and family support - the four pillars to treat schizophrenia’

People affected with severe mental disorder, wandering on different streets, is the common picture seen in all the major cities in India. A person affected by schizophrenia is disowned by the family and left alone on the streets as a destitute. Doctors and psychologist say that support by the family is crucial in reintegrating the patient with society and without the support of the family the treatment becomes difficult.

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder in which a person cannot understand the difference in real and imaginary. It is affects around one percent of the population. The patients typically experience remission of symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.

Dr Rohan Jahagirdar, Director – Intro Spectrum Psychological Services and MD (Psychiatry), Pune, said, “Schizophrenia is associated with stigma and fear in our society. Once the person is diagnosed with schizophrenia family suffers from emotional set back. Support and intervention of the family is extremely crucial for the recovery of the patient. It is a chronic illness and few patients may not recover. If the family neglects follow up treatment it affects the patient which makes them go into relapse. The family should understand and be kind enough to bear the trouble till the patient recovers.”

“One should watch the movie, ‘A Beautiful Mind’. The movie shows how it would have been difficult for John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics, to recover from schizophrenia, without support of his wife. There are cases of separation once the person is diagnosed with schizophrenia. But, the family support is imperative,” added Jahagirdar.

“There are many schizophrenic patients who are disowned by the family members and could be found on the streets. We called them ‘wandering mentally ill’. People should be sensitive to them. There is three pronged strategy in dealing with them. First is to identify such patients, second is to kill the disease and third is to reintegrate them with their family. It is the role of NGO’s which is crucial in this case,” said Jahagirdar.

He also added that incidence of schizophrenia due to consumption of cannabis is a new trend seen in youngsters.

Dr Hamid Dabholkar, Project Coordinator of Parivartan, a, NGO which offers a community based rehabilitation to schizophrenia affected patients, said, “In 2012 we had conducted an extensive study, which proved that community-based rehabilitation can reduce disability among patients and can increase their productivity. There are very few who can afford institutional care and we have seen that if the patient is living in family has more chance for faster recovery. The patient should not feel dehumanised at all in the process.”

Dr Amar Shinde, a psychiatrist from Pune who runs Jagruti Rehabilitation centre for schizophrenic patients, said, “There are three types of supports which are needed – emotional, financial and medical. The most significant is family support. If the family does not understands the patient, it then might become difficult for the patient to recover.”