May 24th is celebrated as world Schizophrenia day. The word Schizophrenia is derived from Greek 'Schiz' meaning split & 'phrenia' meaning mind. 

'Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.'- NIMH
A few case examples are as follows:

'Prasad' (name changed),35yr old, bank employee, yelled at nights, as he everyday saw a group of black dressed masked goons approaching him, he was frightened hearing their terrific voices & big footsteps. This was very disturbing to his wife all night, as she could see nor hear them. She blamed him for imagining things & disturbing everyone's sleep at home.

Prasad started isolating himself at home & office. He stopped expressing himself. He stopped enjoying his favourite snacks & watching movies. His performance at work came down & he was on the verge of losing his job.

Prasad was suffering from Schizophrenia. He lost touch with certain aspects of life and withdrew himself from reality. The group of goons whom he could see and hear was very much true to him. He had a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception.

Mina (name changed), 18yrs old, college student, was rushed to India from U.S, to a psychiatric hospital after she got into trouble at college, as she broke-down thinking that her classmates were mocking her and plotting against her, when no such incident actually took place. She strongly felt that she had some special powers with which she could find out what other people thought in their mind. She believed that traffic signals had hidden cameras to watch her.

Mina was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. She believed her perception to be true and acted according to it.

Jithin (name changed), 26yrs old cine artist had been kept tied up at home and their family thought that he had been haunted by evil spirits. He created a ruckus  at shooting spot due to irrelevant conversations.
At home he recited mantras in a language which none could understand. His friends were annoyed over his impetuous behaviour past few days. He would get aggressive with his parents when they tried to control his behaviour. He ran away from home a couple of times and was forcibly brought back. His family believed that only a ' Holy person' could save their son.

Jithin, too was suffering due to Schizophrenia, which manifested in agitated speech and body movements.

Schizophrenia could occur in childhood too. Siri (name changed), 14yr old had complaints of dogs barking onto his ears there were no dogs at home nor  in his neighbourhood. These noises were so disturbing in a way that he could not focus on his daily activities and studies.

The above stated cases give us some understanding about signs and symptoms of the illness. Schizophrenia is of different types and manifests itself differently, in different people. It usually starts manifesting during late adolescence or early adulthood, irrespective of gender.

Psychiatrists and well  trained clinical psychologists are the right people to diagnose and treat this mental illness.

Swathi Priya. P
Counselling Psychologist

This mental illness could occur due to genetic reasons (inheritance) and changes in the brain chemistry and structure.

A psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist will be the right person to diagnose Schizophrenia. This illness needs proper medications and psychotherapy by trained professionals.

The role of mental health professionals will also be to create awareness about the illness and also guide the patient's family members/care givers providing them emotional support to deal with a person with such a tough and chronic illness.


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