More Than An Attitude Problem – On Schizophrenia

Friends, as we approach our How to Heal Naturally seminar: Mental Health Awareness edition, have you ever heard of Schizophrenia (pronounced as SKIT-suh-FREE-nee-uh)? Sounds German? Is it a fear of something?

What if I say that 42% of those seeking psychological consult here in the Philippines is because of it? Yes, it is the Number 1 mental health condition of our country.

A patient diagnosed with schizophrenia since 2016 shared that there were some things in his past that he remembered, which were not actually real. It took him a while to figure out what was real. He would have sensory experiences that were not the result of any stimuli. He would hear voices and people talking to him, at some point even seeing a person who was not actually there. Nobody could confirm his sensory experiences.

In the past weeks, we have been focusing more on depression and anxiety, but we have not given much attention to Schizophrenia, which has had a BIG STIGMA in our society. People living with it have been labelled as “salot ng lipunan” (curse of society), or judged too quickly as having a “character or attitude problem.”

Usually beginning between 16 to 30 years old, Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition. More obvious signs may include any but not limited to troubled relationships, poor school performance and decreased motivation at work or in school.

Its symptoms make it one of the more severe and weakening conditions. Positive symptoms include behavior not usually observed in healthy people – seeing or hearing things that are not there, unshakable beliefs in something not based on reality, and agitation. Negative symptoms may include decreased facial expressions, emotions, speaking; symptoms related to thinking include problems with memory, attention and planning.

It can affect the daily life of your loved one, from one’s work to relationships. Untreated, Schizophrenia can potentially get on the nerves family, who also tend to be the primary caregivers of the patient in our family-oriented nation.

Community support groups encouraging family members include the Bukas Puso at Isip Family Support Group. Members include families of patients from Philippine General Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. Monthly meetings are held where families are able to give each other moral support as they go through similar experiences.

With correct treatment including referral to a mental health specialist, someone with Schizophrenia can function like any healthy person. Cooperation from mental health professionals and support groups is vital to its successful treatment. As one of our patients shared, “please treat us like human beings. We’re not helpless, but when we do ask for help, do not leave us alone. Despite all these differences, we’re still human.”


Blessing and Healing

P.S. Few days left til the “You Can Heal Naturally” Seminar. Our main topic is Mental Health Awareness. Join us on August 18, 2018. Check for details.


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