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Tamil Nadu - Coimbatore Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

When loved ones suffer personality splits

A. A. Michael Raj

Schizophrenia affects one in 100 people


Typical symptoms:
  • See or hear things that others cannot sense
  • Hold on to false beliefs
  • Excessively suspicious of others
  • Lose motivation to work
  • Neglect physical appearance
  • Withdraw from the company of others

    COIMBATORE: A schizophrenia support group in Coimbatore has brought relief to family members despairing over the condition of their loved ones suffering from the psychiatric disorder.

    At the first meeting of the support group a few days ago, families filled out a questionnaire to evaluate how much they had been psychologically affected by living with a schizophrenic.

    The participants chatted with other families, swapping tips and tales. It brought them much relief and insight into schizophrenia, which affects one in 100 people.

    At the end of the meeting, the participants realised that although drugs could mend the tormented body, only love can heal the tortured mind.

    "Family members need to know about the disease," said Ravi Shankar, a consultant psychiatrist who formed the group at the Krishna Nursing Home. "Newer medicines with fewer side effects are available. Patients can get `depot injections' that release the medication slowly. They need to be taken only once every 15 days. Electro convulsive therapy can reduce the severity of the disease."

    Based on the results of the questionnaire, Dr. Ravi Shankar identified the relatives who were not coping well with the situation, and counselled them.

    He explained that patients with schizophrenia panic and become unpredictable because they see things that do not exist and hear voices though no one has uttered a syllable.

    Patients can suffer delusions and angrily assert that doting brothers or sisters will kill them. Symptoms differ from patient to patient, but the experiences are very real for them.

    "They lose the ability to gain insight into a problem or do any introspection. The voices can motivate or threaten. When patients are talking to themselves they are responding to the voices. If the voices tell jokes, they laugh. If the voices threaten to injure them, they get frightened and try to flee," Dr. Ravi Shankar explained.

    Relatives of the patients must understand and support, never judge or abuse, even when the loved ones hallucinate.

    Schizophrenia, Dr. Ravi Shankar said, "has nothing to do with caste, creed or geographical location. It is not caused by the planets, the wrath of the Gods or by supernatural powers.

    Chemical changes

    Chemical changes in the brain cause behavioural change." Malfunctioning genes or foetal damage by medicines during pregnancy might have sparked off the disorder.

    For information on the support group, relatives of patients can contact Krishna Nursing Home, 6AB, Swarnambiga Layout, Ramnagar, Coimbatore - 641009. Phone: 94433 36742, 2231685, 2236742.

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