by Eveline Gan
04:45 AM Nov 08, 2011
Schizophrenia affects one in 100 people, and worldwide more than 24 million people grapple with the chronic brain disorder that can cause one to hallucinate, have disorganised thoughts or hear voices in his or her head. In Singapore, it is one of the three top mental conditions.
Most people with schizophrenia will require anti-psychotic medication for the rest of their lives. Yet, experts Today spoke to said that getting patients to take their medication is a challenge – they often miss doses or take incorrect doses.
Studies have shown that more than 80 per cent of schizophrenia patients suffer a relapse within five years after diagnosis.
“Stopping anti-psychotic medication is the most powerful predictor of relapse. About 55 per cent of hospital readmission occurs because patients do not take their prescribed medication,” said Professor Tim Lambert from Concord Clinical School at The University of Sydney in Australia. He was in town last month to talk about schizophrenia relapse prevention.
Prof Lambert is also the Head of Schizophrenia Treatment and Outcomes Research at the Brain and Mind Research Institute in Sydney.
For schizophrenia sufferers, a relapse can have dire consequences. They face a four-times risk of suicide, and each relapse also becomes more intense, leading to a longer recovery period.
Prof Lambert explained that with every relapse, the person’s brain function – in the frontal lobe – undergoes further irreversible damage.
The frontal lobes of the brain is where all the complex information processing such as reasoning, planning and strategising occurs. Abnormalities in this part of the brain can lead to “a disconnection between thinking and feeling”, explained Dr Ang Yong Guan, consultant psychiatrist and chairman of Action Group for Mental Illness.
He said: “What the person feels is not perceived by the prefrontal cortex of the brain for processing. As a result, schizophrenia patients are often trapped in a world of their own. They are not able to separate fantasy from reality.”
I am diagnosed with schizophrenia
I hear voices and see visions
Only when I have a relapse
Other than that I am perfectly normal
I am able to perceive things from all angles
To find the shortest solutions
Solve complex problems in a matter of minutes
This is not a hindrence but a gift from God
Understanding the mysteries of the Universe
The Key to Knowledge
I am the Catalyst
The Eye in the Sky
IBM’s study into the human brain
Will merge the computer and the brain
The possibility of creating another Albert Einstein
Creating a Council of Elders
To solve the world’s problems
Contributed by Oogle.