This week, I shall talk about another dreaded condition, one that cannot be tamed with proper medication and psychological treatment. It’s called Schizophrenia, and unfortunately, it’s a serious long-term mental disorder. It’s causes include a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.
COVID-19 has already had a great impact in the general population worldwide. We in India should be especially concerned. The first full lockdown of 60+ days took a terrible toll on the mental health of many. Being confined in our own houses, not being able to move out without sanitizers mask and gloves, afraid of being touched or being too close to an unknown – kicked off a new kind of paranoia. One that is not fully gone. The fear of losing jobs, loved ones, inability to travel, work from home, staring at bad news day after day and other such horrors may have eased substantially – but truth be told, the problem is not over.
Europe is already facing a stronger resurgent second wave thanks to its liberal approach. While our numbers – in terms of cases – are dropping, there is no guarantee that a second and more lethal wave will not strike us. If normal people have been mentally drained by what has transpired, just think of those who suffer from a serious mental health issue. Taking daily medication is just one part of the solution – what about the psychological care that needs to be administered in such situations to keep the person afflicted and the ones around that person safe from harm?
Let’s spend some time understanding Schizophrenia:
1. It commonly strikes between the ages of 16 to 30.
2. Males tend to show symptoms at a slightly younger age than females.
3. In most cases, the disorder develops so slowly that the individual does not even know that he or she may have had it for many years. However, in other cases, it can strike suddenly and develop quickly.
4. It affects approximately 1% of all adults, globally. Experts say schizophrenia is probably multiple illnesses masquerading as one.
5. Research seems to suggest that it may be the result of faulty neuronal development in the brain of the fetus, which later in life emerges as a full-blown illness.
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 cause severe distress in not only the patients but people responsible for them. A sizable proportion of people with schizophrenia are dependent on others because they are unable to hold a job or take care of themselves. Many resist treatments, arguing that there is nothing wrong with them. Truly so, it’s hard to tell as some patients may present clear symptoms, but on other occasions, they may seem fine until they start explaining what they are truly thinking. The effects of schizophrenia reach far beyond the patient – families, friends, and society are affected too.
Symptoms and signs of schizophrenia will vary, depending on the individual. They are in general classified into four categories:
Positive symptoms – Psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.
Negative symptoms – Refer to elements that are taken away from the individual, like absence of facial expressions or lack of motivation.
Cognitive symptoms – These affect the person’s thought processes and may manifest as positive or negative symptoms. Poor concentration, jumping from thought to thought for no reason, forgetfulness, difficulty in communication, and in extreme cases – assuming multiple personalities.
Emotional symptoms – These are usually negative symptoms, such as blunted emotions, social withdrawal, living in denial, fearfulness of events made up in their mind, medication and illness.
Experts believe several factors are generally involved in contributing to the onset of schizophrenia. Evidence suggests that genetic and environmental factors act together to bring about schizophrenia. The condition has an inherited element, but environmental triggers also significantly influence it.
Below is a list of the factors that are thought to contribute towards the onset of schizophrenia:
1. Genetic inheritance: If there is no history of schizophrenia in a family, the chances of developing it are less than one percent. However, that risk rises to 10 percent if a parent was diagnosed.
2. Chemical imbalance in the brain: Experts believe that an imbalance of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is involved in the onset of schizophrenia. Other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, may also be involved.
3. Family relationships: There is no evidence to prove or even indicate that family relationships might cause schizophrenia, however, some patients with the illness believe family tension triggers relapses.
4. Environmental factors: Although there is no definite proof, many suspect traumas before birth and viral infections may contribute to the development of the disease.
Stressful experiences often precede the emergence of schizophrenia. Before any acute symptoms are apparent, people with schizophrenia habitually become bad-tempered, anxious, and unfocused. This can trigger relationship problems, divorce, and unemployment.
These factors are often blamed for the onset of the disease, when really it was the other way round – the disease caused the crisis. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to know whether schizophrenia caused certain stresses or occurred because of them.
5. Drug induced schizophrenia: Marijuana and LSD are known to cause schizophrenia relapses. Additionally, for people with a predisposition to a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia, usage of cannabis may trigger the first episode.
Some researchers believe that certain prescription drugs, such as steroids and stimulants, can cause psychosis
So how does one treat this issue? First and foremost, ensuring the patient continues with medication and gets psychiatric treatment is the key to successful containment. With proper treatment, patients can lead near normal lives. Treatment can help relieve many of the symptoms of schizophrenia. However, for most patients with the disorder – they have to cope with the symptoms for life.
Anti-psychosis drugs have transformed schizophrenia treatment. Thanks to them, most patients are able to live in the community, rather than stay in a hospital. However, excessive use of such drugs comes with its own set of problems which are not too far from what one can call substance abuse. Going off meds is another critical issue. There are times when the patient thinks that life is under control and decides to wean off meds – with disastrous results.
While not a cure, holistic healing can bring down levels of anxiety, fear, depression, dreamy states of hallucination, extreme emotions, rage, and symptoms associated with Schizophrenia.
The most common schizophrenia treatment in acupressure: Find painful point with a probe in the area shown in the figures below. Stimulate them with jimmy and paste methi seeds with micro surgical tape. Repeat the treatment every day and paste fresh methi seeds and tape after every 24 hours. Treatment will continue for a long time.
On the first week of treatment focus on the following points: G 20, 34, (L), Li 4, 11, Si 3, Sp 9, B 60 & K 3.
Whereas on the second week, focus on these points: Group 1 – Ex 9, P 6, Si 3 Group 2 – GV 20, P4, Li 11 & CV 15.
Special points for Schizophrenia: H 3, 8, 9, GV 12, 13, 14, CV 14, P 6, G 20 & St 36.
Meridians and their names: CV – Conceptual Vessel, GV – Governing Vessel, P – Pericardium (Brain), H – Heart, L – Liver, Sp – Spleen, Li – Large Intestine, St – Stomach, B – Urinary Bladder, G – Gall Bladder.
(From increasing metabolism to overcoming physical problems, Prof Luthria speaks about the art of self-healing through simple techniques. For more information on treatments and remedies, visit www.artofselfhealing.in)