When isolated, some people may experience additional symptoms associated with schizophrenia such as delusional thoughts Picture: File
When isolated, some people may experience additional symptoms associated with schizophrenia such as delusional thoughts Picture: File

5 ways to help a person with schizophrenia during lockdown

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Apr 22, 2020

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As the world continues to fight the spread of Covid-19, there is a forgotten community that’s extremely vulnerable. 

People living with schizophrenia are already struggling with being stigmatised. Complicated psychological health issues and isolation could add to their vulnerable state.  

The National Institute of Mental Health explains schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.

The institution says this chronic mental illness, presents itself in people from their late teens to early adulthood when they start showing symptoms.

Some of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia include:
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganised thinking
  • Distorted speech
  • Hearing voices, and
  • Disinterest in everyday activities.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes schizophrenia as one of the most serious and challenging psychiatric diseases nowadays, which still demands strong efforts in order to acquire a more solid knowledge on the pathology.

WHO adds that schizophrenia affects more than 21 million people worldwide, and one in every two schizophrenia-afflicted subjects does not receive care for the disease.

When isolated, some people may experience additional symptoms associated with schizophrenia such as delusional thoughts, auditory or visual hallucinations, disorganised speech or thoughts and a lack of motivation that alienates them.

To assist people living with schizophrenia, here are some tips to cope with the lockdown and its effects on mental health.  

1.Maintain a daily routine  

Wake up at the same time you would normally, shower, do your work if you can, and be productive around the house with simple tasks.  

2.Reduce social media and news consumption 

It’s important to keep informed with what’s going on around you, however some news outlets can sensationalise information, which adds to the heightened stress of living with a mental health disorder as serious as schizophrenia. 

3.Stay active 

During isolation, it’s important to stay active, both physically and mentally. Doing so keeps your body and mind healthy. Try doing push-ups, sit-ups and crunches to stay fit. Mentally, you can read books, do a puzzle or colour in using adult colouring art.  

4.Social distancing doesn’t mean you’re alone 

It’s important to maintain relationships with loved ones, caregivers and friends. You can keep in touch by video calling or texting. This not only gives people the opportunity to check in on your well-being, but also gives you the ongoing opportunities to share your struggles with people who care.  

5.Take your medication 

If your doctor has prescribed the monthly injection, make sure you schedule your appointments for administering your injections well in advance and don’t forget to diarise your appointments. And take it every day. Set a reminder on your phone to notify you. If your doctor has prescribed a daily oral medication, make sure you engage with your medical aid provider to have your prescription filled in advance and to have your medication delivered to you.  

If any of these symptoms are experienced more frequently than usual, get in touch with your caregiver and doctor for assistance ASAP. Or, you can contact The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). For more information on schizophrenia and treatment options, visit schizophrenia24x7.co.za.

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