Schizophrenia can be managed


Zimbabwe today joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Mental Health Day focusing on Schizophrenia a condition that can be managed resulting in sufferers leading a productive life.
World Mental Health Day is meant to raise awareness on mental health issues around the world and mobilise efforts in support of mental health.
It also provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
The theme for 2014 is “Living with schizophrenia”. The focus of the World Health Organisation will be living a healthy life with schizophrenia.
In an interview Zimbabwe National Association of Mental Health, chairperson Mr Ignatius Murambidzi said around 130 000 people in Zimbabwe live with schizophrenia.
“The commemorations are meant to raise awareness and conscientise the general populace on schizophrenia,” said Murambidzi.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that generally appears in late adolescence or early adulthood – however, it can emerge at any time in life. It is one of many brain diseases that may include delusions, loss of personality (flat affect), confusion, agitation, social withdrawal, psychosis, and bizarre behaviour. 
Individuals with schizophrenia may hear voices that are not there. Some may be convinced that others are reading their minds, controlling how they think, or plotting against them. This can distress patients severely and persistently, making them withdrawn and frantic.
Others may find it hard to make sense of what a person with schizophrenia is talking about. In some cases, the individual may spend hours completely still, without talking. On other occasions he or she may seem fine, until they start explaining what they are truly thinking.
The effects of schizophrenia reach far beyond the patient – schizophrenia does not only affect the person with the disorder. Families, friends and society are affected too. A sizable proportion of people with schizophrenia have to rely on others, because they are unable to hold a job or care for themselves.
With proper treatment, patients can lead productive life; treatment can help relieve many of the symptoms of schizophrenia since it is a treatable disorder. Effective treatment is available that can reduce symptoms and improve the ability to function at home, work and school. Recovery is possible in schizophrenia though some may need to stay on medication for a long time, perhaps for the rest of their lives.
Besides medical treatment people with schizophrenia may also benefit from psychotherapy, vocational rehabilitation and self help groups and peer support.
However, the majority of patients with the disorder have to cope with the symptoms for life. This does not mean that a person with schizophrenia who receives treatment cannot lead a rewarding, productive and meaningful life in his or her community.
Schizophrenia most commonly strikes between the ages of 15 and 25 among men, and about 25 to 35 in women. In many cases the disorder develops so slowly that the sufferer does not know he/she has it for a long time. With other people it can strike suddenly and develop fast.
Schizophrenia is a complex, chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder and affects approximately one percent of all adults globally. Experts say schizophrenia is probably many illnesses masquerading as one. Research indicates that schizophrenia is likely to be the result of faulty neuronal development in the brain of the foetus, which later in life emerges as a full-blown illness.


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