Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. Affecting only 1% of the population, it is considered a rare mental illness. Lack of mental health awareness contributes to misconceptions and myths around Schizophrenia. Read the article to really understand schizophrenia and demystify it. At Cadabams, we have been providing schizophrenia care for close to 3 decades now. If you or anybody you know exhibits the symptoms of schizophrenia or schizophrenia caregiver stress, seek help immediately. Call us on our 24/7 helpline +91 97414 76476 for any queries, assistance or to book an appointment.
Schizophrenia is one of the most well known and highly represented mental illness disorders of psychiatry. It is a clinical syndrome of variables but profoundly disruptive psychopathology, which involves thought perceptions, emotions, movements, and behaviours. The expression of these schizophrenia symptoms varies across patients and over time, but the cumulative effect of the illness is always severe and usually long-lasting.
Mental health awareness is paramount in dealing with Schizophrenia and a host of other issues. The number of people with schizophrenia in the world is increasing, particularly in developing countries. Approximately 0.5 out of 1000 people in the world suffer from schizophrenia (Mental Health Research Association, 2006). In India, the point prevalence of mental illness problems such as schizophrenia was reported to be approximately 0.5-1% of the population.
Approximately 60 to 85% of the people with schizophrenia are cared for by family caregivers. They usually help them in performing their daily activities such as bathing, eating, cooking, dressing, taking medicines, and checking up on their overall well-being. However, when care is provided for a longer time, particularly for people with schizophrenia, the family caregiver can experience burdens that lead to negative consequences.
Here are some of the key symptoms or signs associated with schizophrenia that you should watch out for.
Long-lasting sadness or irritability – Intense feelings of sadness, worthlessness, lack of hope, and helplessness for prolonged periods of time. Mental health disorders are not just about ‘feeling blue’ or ‘just having a bad day’.
Extremely high and low moods leading to a bad lifestyle – poor grooming, social withdrawal, slow motor behaviour and speech, weight loss or gain, excessive sleep, low self-esteem, agitation, blurred emotions and slowed thought processes.
Excessive fear, worry, or anxiety – Everyone gets anxious sometimes, but if your worries and fears are so constant that they interfere with your ability to function and relax, it is definitely a warning sign.
Social withdrawal – Choosing to minimise contact with others is a common symptom for people who have mental health-related issues.
Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits – Excessive or less eating, insomnia, or oversleeping are some of the first signs that you need help.
Caring for a schizophrenia patient is a prolonged, stressful and emotional experience. Caregivers often find themselves anxious, angry, irritable and less focused. They might often feel socially isolated as they have to constantly take care of the patient, which impacts multiple aspects of their lives.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
Stress can manifest in an array of forms. Caring for schizophrenia patients can be physically and psychologically exhausting.
Here are some of the key signs of caregiver stress.
Denial – Hoping for a sure recovery for the schizophrenia patient over time. They tend to not accept reality and instead hope for something that’s not pragmatic.
Anger – Episodes of anger and frustration while caring for the patient.
Social Isolation – Being engrossed in the caring of the patient may make you lose sight of your personal, and social pursuits. This is a clear sign that you need to relieve your stress and be sociable again. Signs include letting go of past hobbies, reducing time spent with friends and other family members, etc.
Worried – Caregivers are often preoccupied with the thoughts of the person with schizophrenia. They may be constantly worried about their safety or their actions. This in turn increases the stress which may negatively impact the caregiver’s health or affect the caregiving process.
Sense of Exhaustion and Restlessness – Caring for a schizophrenia patient requires you to be fiercely attentive at all times. The responsibility of the patient’s overall well-being may leave you completely exhausted. Physical exhaustion and worrying may keep you up late into the night and this is a clear sign that you are stressed.
Inadequate Focus – Having troubles in performing familiar tasks and being less focused signal caregiver stress.
Health Issues – Stress in any form can be quite harmful to your overall well-being and may manifest in the form of multiple primary, and secondary health issues. If you are suffering from an unwarranted health issue, be aware that it’s a sign of caregiver stress.
Dealing with Stress
To be able to care for the schizophrenia patient, it’s essential that the caregiver takes requisite self-care measures. On top of the array of responsibilities, caregivers need to be patient, empathetic, and understanding. This is quite challenging and thus here are some of the tips for dealing with stress.
- Accepting that you are stressed while caring for your loved one with schizophrenia is the first step towards dealing with stress. You can adopt relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga for elevating your mood and energy levels. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help in case of acute stress or depression.
- Speaking up and sharing your personal experiences can help alleviate your stress levels. You can choose to communicate with a close family member or a friend and seek assistance in any possible manner.
- You can join a caregiver support group where you can not only share your experiences but also learn from others facing similar challenges.
- Stay tuned both online and offline for schizophrenia-related updates. This may come in handy when you have to manage versatile caring activities for a schizophrenia patient.
Tips on Caregiving
As a caregiver or loved one to someone suffering from mental health issues such as Schizophrenia, here are a few healthy habits you can help them develop.
- Ensure they stick to a healthy and regular sleep schedule
- Ensure they have a diet with a healthy dose of nutrient-rich fresh food
- Keep them away from a social situation involving alcohol, smoking, and drugs
- Ensure they get plenty of sunlight
- Ensure they pay attention to their personal hygiene
- Help them manage stress by performing yoga, workout, or meditation together in a consistent manner
- Help them find activities that they love and offer them joy like dancing, swimming, cycling
- You might consider getting an emotional-support pet for them to help comfort them in periods of distress
- Be present for them and stop judgment from clouding your behaviour towards them
- Ensure that they get help and stick to their treatment plan
- Set realistic goals. Accept the way they are and understand that it’s okay not to be perfect.
- Ensure that they ask for help when they need it
Cadabams is widely trusted and recognized for its broad spectrum of schizophrenia care facilities. We ensure that our patients are treated with attention, love, care, and concern. We offer an exclusive range of solutions and treatments based on the condition and issues faced by an individual.
Call us on our mental health helpline +91 96111 94949 for further details on getting schizophrenia treatment.
Disclaimer – We strive to treat our patients with dignity and the utmost sensitivity. We understand that schizophrenia is a disease and not a sign of weakness. The term schizophrenia is used not in a derogatory fashion but to remain relevant to user search trends and common usage. In case you or a loved are struggling with schizophrenia or you are caring for one, do share your unique viewpoint on how we can improve this content for our readers, please reach out to us at email@example.com
How do you care for someone with schizophrenia?
As a caregiver, you need to understand and accept the fact that you cannot reason the acute psychosis. Do not express anger or irritation. Encourage self help, closely monitor the treatments & medications and watch out for signs of relapse in the patient. Also, do take care of yourself. Find a support group to find out different people in the same situation.
Can you completely recover from schizophrenia?
It is a widespread myth that people with schizophrenia have no chance of recovery or improvement. Though there is no cure for schizophrenia, you can treat and manage it with medication, self-help strategies, and supportive therapies.