About 1.7 million people in Nigeria are suffering from schizophrenia, a severe psychiatric disorder with symptoms of emotional instability, detachment from reality, and withdrawal into the self.

Dr Dapo Adegbaju, a consultant psychiatrist at the Federal Neuro-Pschiatric Hospital, Yaba, said this on Friday at an event organised by the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, to commemorate the 2014 World Mental Health Day, themed ‘Living with Schizophrenia’’.

Although medical website www.medicalnewstoday says “schizophrenia is a mental disorder that generally appears in late adolescence or early adulthood”, Adegbaju observed that it could emerge at any time in life.

“It is one of many brain diseases that may include delusions, loss of personality, confusion, agitation, social withdrawal, psychosis, and bizarre behaviour,” he said.

He lamented that about 50 per cent of schizophrenic people still do not have the right information on the disorder or access to treatment. |

“Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects about one per cent of the world’s total population,” he said.

“About 50 per cent of these people don’t have access to treatment and 30 per cent of these people are in developing countries like Nigeria. So, Nigeria with a population of about 170 million has about 1.7 million people suffering from schizophrenia.”

He listed some symptoms of schizophrenia as irrational thinking, odd behaviour, auditory hallucinations, lack of proper sleep and talking to oneself.

According to Adegbaju, causes of schizophrenia may be genetic or may be social issues, such as unemployment, frustration, inadequate care during pregnancy and drug misuse.

He cautioned that misuse of drugs could also cause schizophrenia.

“Treatment for schizophrenia is a long-term one, but early detection of the symptoms and early treatment are most effective in the care and management of the condition.

“It is only people with schizophrenia who are affected but their relatives, caregivers and the general society as well. That is why people who notice from onset the symptoms of schizophrenia should not wait until it reaches the chronic stage before seeking help.”

he said advocacy should be heightened so that people can detect the disorder early enough, and urged the federal government to subsidise medication for mental disorders to enable Nigerians of all socioeconomic cadres access effective treatment.



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