Posted by: cindy | 2004/01/19

Chronic Schizophrenia

My brother has recently been diagnosed with Chronic Schizophrenia (chemical imbalance in his brain). He has hallucinations and hears voices etc. It was quite bad before the medication, he attempted to bury his head in the sand in an attempt to stop the voices. He is seeing a psychiatrist, but not often. He has been put on medication. The only test the psychiatrist did was a physical one (when my brother was at his worst) and diagnosed a chemical imbalance and put him on medication. He saw him again two weeks after that and spoke to him and prescribed more tablets, the next appointment is in a months time. I am not sure if this was the correct procedure. Can you advice on where I can read up on this illness. Secondly my mother is in a bad way. She is not coping with this. Is there some support group she can join or can you recommmend somebody I can take her to to talk to. She is diabetic and I fear for her health. Please help.

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Our expert says:
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Dear cindy,
A second opinion is quite a good idea, and shouldn't ofend the original doctor who made the first diagnosis. generally, Schizophrenia is not dificult to diagnose correctly, and is characteristic in the TYPE of hallucinations and delusions which arise, and the type of behaviour a person shows. Nowadays drug treatment is the most commonly used, and the form of treatment with the best evidence of being helpful. Indeed, in otherwise untreated schizophrena, a person's very basic processes of thinking and understanding can be so addled that it can be very hard or even impossible to talk with them usefully ; after they have begun to respond to medicines, they may be thinking much more clearly, and may then become amenable to other forms of treatment AS WELL. Treatment without the appropriate drugs almost inevitably fails.
So, in the early stages, a doctor may well decide that as it will take a month or two to see whether the relevent medicine is working, there might be little to be achieved in the meantime by seeing someone while waiting for the chemical benefits. But one thing that it sounds as if this doctor may not hav fully worked on, would be the important component of talk ing to the people most affected by the illness, like yourself and your mother, to fully explain the nature of the illness, the treatment options, what to look for, how to cope, and what other resources might be locally available to use.
Puzzled gives good advice, clearly based on personal experience --- and try that contact number to explore support groups, and let us know in a fresh message what you found useful in that line.

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Our users say:
Posted by: cindy | 2004/01/26

Thank you all for you valued information. The doctor is a psychiatrist. Puzzled thank you for the number. We are at a stage now where he is in a constant daze, like he is heavily drugged. You have to repeat yourself a couple of times to get a response out of him. I will definetly phone Anelle. Thanks again

Reply to cindy
Posted by: Puzzled | 2004/01/20

Hi Cindy
My brother was diagnosed with Chronic schitzophrenia when he was 16 & he is now 23. The hearing voices & hallucinations are very common in ALL mental illnessess though-he might not have Schitzophrenia-he might have Manic depression. You can actually read up about both illnessess on this site itself-try going to "FIND"/ "MEDICAL" or MIND & look both of these illnesses up. Now about the doctor-you didn't say if he was just a GP or if he was a psychiatrist/psychologist. Either way it is better to get a second opinion by taking your brother for a proper psychiatric evaluation. But generally, when you have been put on medication they give the drug a one month trial to see how the patient takes to the meds. If they experience bad side effects or if it isn't working they try another & abother until they find the right comnbination to get the chemicals balanced-it really is all trial & erorr. He will probably also be given an injection monthly. It would be in your best interest to be on good terms with your brothers doctor-get his home number for emergencies & go with & talk to him about what your brother is taking, how much he must take, side effects, how to know if your brother has stopped his meds ect. (You need to know this to recognise signs of relaps) I have a phone number here for you of someone who will be able to give you the number of a Schizophrenic support group-which the entire family will need to go to-including your mom. Our whole family goes to the support groups & it really helps-for your mom to see how other mothers coped, for siblings to see other siblings going through the same things & for your brother to know he is not alone & he has support in his illness.

Here is the number: 082 878 4626 (Anelle Pienaar)

Good luck- we can chat more about this if you feel you need to & you can ask me any questions you wish.

Reply to Puzzled
Posted by: Soul | 2004/01/19

Hi Cindy

This must be very hard on your family.
I don't know much about chronic Schizophrenia but this doctor doesn't sound too great I would most certainly go for a sencond opinion. And to someone who is intrested in helping people and can help your brother through this.

I wish you people all the best and I hope you find the help that you need for your brother and your mother.

Take Care

Reply to Soul

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