I’ll never forget the day when patient X strolled in to the psychiatric ward. Before him, most of the cases were of varying degrees of depression, so I could not anticipate anything. He was extremely hyper, having an effortlessly haphazard train of thought, and recanted chilling descriptions of the voices he heard and felt inside his head. Talking to him made it clear that apparently, he was suffering from schizophrenia. However, one can never be sure unless and until proper diagnostic tests are not carried out..
When Schizophrenia was first identified in 1887, psychiatrists considered it an incurable, degenerative disease. With the advent of anti-psychotic medications, there was a beacon of hope for finding a cure to this deadly disease. The ratio of remission to affected patients improved to 20:80. Recently, psychiatrists, more so in developing countries, are finding that more and more patients are recovering from schizophrenia, and that too without medication.
There are many factors that may contribute to this phenomenon. They can be divided up into the explainable, and the not yet explainable.
The older the patient’s age, the more chances for her/him to be able to recover from schizophrenia. If the patient acquired the disease later on in life, then the neuronal circuitry that is responsible for him/her having the disease is essentially younger in terms of period of time, and more pliable, as opposed to someone who acquired Schizophrenia at a younger age and suffered with it for more years. In this latter case, it will be a bit more hard-wired into them as the neuronal abnormalities weaved in and out throughout the period of their fundamental developmental ages, not to mention, possibly for a greater period of time as well.
Patients who have had less psychotic breaks will have an easier time recovering than patients that have had more psychotic breaks. This is because the number, duration and intensity of psychotic breaks equates to the severity of the disease. The struggle is harder for those with more severe forms, and the road to recovery is longer. Alternatively, patients with less severe forms have a better chnac e of recovering.
The Inexplicable Mind-Body Connection
Neurology is a field that is extremely mysterious.It has been proved that optimism is a prerequisite to successful treatment.
First and foremost, schizophrenic patients are thought to overcome their ailment if they realize and accept their illness, remain hopeful and believe that eventually,they will get better. It’s the power of positive thinking.
Dr. Paris Williams highlights in his book “Rethinking Madness” how he got his patients to recover from schizophrenia. According to him, patients need to rewire their perceptions of schizophrenia, practice mindfulness exercises that serve as a tool to escape their thoughts and become actively engaged in day-to-day lives, establish meaningful relationships, and find a way to channelize their energies to help them find their purpose in life.
“Every participant in all three of my studies (and many other accounts of others who have gone through similar journeys),” writes Williams.
And it all makes sense, in an inexplicable way. All we really know about the mind is that we only use a small fraction of it and that neuronal circuitry can always be rewired—it just requires a lot of patience, determination and effort by both the physician and the patient.
In this day and age, too many schizophrenic patients are told that their disease is incurable and degenerative. But that is not the case. Rather than focusing solely on prescribing medicines, practitioners need to examine patients individually and practice medicine holistically with open eyes. Only from there will they be able to help their patients in combating this ailment.