World Schizophrenia Day Thoughts: Lockdown Will Cause Mental Health Crisis

May 24, 2020 is celebrated as World Schizophrenia Day.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that affects how the brain normally functions. It interferes with the person’s ability to act, think or feel. Schizophrenia is associated with a lot of social stigma and patients are looked down upon and rejected as a part of the society. This makes it very difficult for people with the disorder to adjust in society.  The peak age of onset of schizophrenia is 15 to 25 years in men and 20 to 30 years in women.


This year, the theme adopted for World Schizophrenia Day is ‘Do what you can do’, with a focus on fighting the stigmas associated with the condition.


Patients suffering from schizophrenia have a disordered manner of thinking. Even day-to-day activities become very confusing, and much of the world around them is hard to make sense of or understand. Schizophrenia patients become suspicious and often hold false beliefs which may lead to them harming others or harming themselves (helplessness leading to suicide). They often experience hallucinations and see, feel or smell things that do not really exist. They have poor self care, reduced social interaction, low motivation, disorganized speech, odd behaviour, wandering away tendencies etc.


The general cause of schizophrenia is unknown. Majorly it is a hereditary condition where certain chemicals in certain areas of the brain are out of balance. Onset of its symptoms can be attributed to many societal ramifications also. Stress and drug abuse can increase the risk of this grave mental disorder.

A major problem is that it often takes a long period of time for symptoms to appear fully to diagnose schizophrenia and start treatment. The more the duration of not being treated more is the severity of the illness ultimately going to a point of no return. The societal pressure and stigma associated with this condition often ends up being the biggest reason for people to close down on themselves and not seek professional help.


A large proportion of society is still unaware of the medical advancements and numerous treatments available to manage schizophrenia. The most commonly available treatment for schizophrenia is a combination of medicine and psychological rehabilitation. Anti-psychotic drugs are prescribed to patients to cope with their symptoms and manage their schizophrenic episodes of hallucinations and delusions.

Keeping with the spirit of World Schizophrenia Day, we ought to come together and abolish the stigma and fear people have of schizophrenia so no patient feels abandoned or alone. This condition is caused by a biological anomaly. While every person – schizophrenic or not – needs a support system of family and friends, schizophrenic people need emotional as well as societal support to lead a normal life.

We are all in this together!


The risk of mental illness is increased not just in the immediate future, but even years after the stress has passed. In a way, this is like imprinting a vulnerability into neuronal circuits. Adaptive demands necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown may result in a surge in new cases of major and minor mental illness in the coming months and also in the coming years.

It goes without saying that there is a risk of worsening or relapse in persons with existing mental illness. Many patients with existing mental illness were unable to get their medicines during the lockdown especially in poorer segments of society. Schizophrenia patients who are unable to continue their medicines are at high risk of relapse.

In the weeks and months ahead, India will suffer from a massive mental health crisis due to unemployment, alcohol abuse, economic hardship, domestic violence and indebtedness all of which are risk factors for developing schizophrenia.



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