Effectsof Schizophrenia on Family
Schizophreniais one of the neurological disorders that affect familiespsychologically, physically, and emotionally. It is an old disorderwhose symptoms were isolated from other forms of mental illnesses inthe early part of the twentieth century. Family members with at leastone individual suffering from schizophrenia often suffer frominternalized shame and blame. This is a common occurrence in societythat lacks the correct civic education about the disorder. The factthat genetic predisposition is one of the risk factors forschizophrenia imparts fear among the healthy siblings who understandthat they themselves or their children can as well as suffer from thesame disorder. The hospitalization of patients suffering fromschizophrenia costs $ 300-400 a day, which implies that the disorderimposes a heavy financial burden to the healthy members. The sickfamily members lose the capacity to handle activities of dailyliving, which increases the burden of caregiver role on the healthmembers.
Keywords: Internalized shame, emotional effects, financial effects,caregivers.
Effectsof Schizophrenia on Family
Schizophrenia,similar to other diseases has social, economic, and emotional effectson the family members. Schizophrenia is a lifetime disease that callsfor continuous social, emotional, and financial support of the familymembers. Schizophrenia is described as a neurological disorder thataffects young persons in their prime (Brandy, 2005). The diseaseimpairs the cognition and affects one’s senses, thus making itdifficult to distinguish between the real and unreal. In other words,Schizophrenia is one of the mental disorders that affect thepatient’s emotions, judgment, thinking, and the ability to graspthe reality. Schizophrenia can affect all people irrespective oftheir social backgrounds, race, or geographical location. Thedisorder affects one out of a hundred people where most of them getthe disease at the age of between 20 and 30 years (Smith, 2008). Thispaper will address the effects of schizophrenia on families of theaffected persons.
Schizophreniais an old mental disorder, but its symptoms were distinguished fromother forms of the disorder in the early twentieth century. Symptomsof the disorder of schizophrenia can be divided into positive andnegative signs. The positive signs include several perceptions (suchas hallucinations, delusions, inappropriate behavior, anddisorganized reasoning (Pfeiffer, Mailloux & Forsythe, 1988).Negative symptoms of schizophrenia include the absence of normalemotions, thoughts, and behavior. Although the major cause ofschizophrenia is not known, there are several factors that aresuspected to be the primary predisposing factors. These factorsinclude biochemical (neurochemical imbalance), cerebral blood flow,molecular biology, genetic predisposition, drug abuse, andnutritional deficiencies (Smith, 2008). This disorder affects peopleat the most crucial stage of their development. It disrupts theirnormal development, relationships, sense of identity, career plans,and educational goals. Different types of schizophrenia includedementia paralytica, prophyria, pellagra, and homocysteinuria amongothers (Pfeiffer, Mailloux & Forsythe, 1988).
Effectsof schizophrenia on the members of the family
Theaffliction of one member of the family by schizophrenia disruptsunity among the rest of the family members, including the parents andtheir children. In most cases, nearly all family members feelembarrassed by the behavior of the affected person and the symptomsof the disorder (Brandy, 2005). In addition, lack of informationabout the exact cause of the disorder subjects the family members tothe risk of being blamed for having caused the disorder. This resultsin the internalized shame among the members of the affected persons.However, shame and blame among the members of the families of theafflicted persons is more common the societies that lack appropriateunderstanding of the disorder and professional support. This reducesthe capacity of the family members to discover the deep reserves ofpassion and love as well as great strength for one another (Dawe &Montgomery, 2003).
Sinceschizophrenia is a long-term illness, it results in persistent shameand blame, which in turn destroys relationship among the familymembers. According to Dawe & Montgomery (2003) change in thedynamics of the relationship within the family is an inevitableoccurrence, especially when the family of the afflicted person lacksthe support of the society. For example, schizophrenia affects opencommunication with the families of the afflicted persons in anegative way. The sense of parental security among some childrenreduce, which occurs when these children feel that their parents andcaregivers are giving close attention to the sick sibling. The seeksiblings need more attention is obvious, but it is hard for thehealthy siblings to emotionally accept this fact. In some seriouscases, the affliction of a sibling by the schizophrenia disorderresults in a divorce, marital discord, or unhappy marriage (Brandy,2005). In essence, schizophrenia is a significant threat to therelationship among all family members.
Emotionaleffects of schizophrenia on the family members
Differentpeople react differently to the news about the disorder affecting oneof their family members by the schizophrenia disorders. Consequently,the disorder causes different emotional effects on different familymembers. The disorder may result in fear and anxiety among somesiblings, who are aware that genetic predisposition is among themajor causes of schizophrenia (Dawe & Montgomery, 2003). Thesesiblings fear that they themselves or their children might one daysuffer from the disease. In addition, the disorder results in griefand sadness among some family members. This is because the disorderresults in complete loss of identity, which makes some familymembers, feel that they have already lost one of their members.Moreover, schizophrenia triggers a feeling of guilt among somesiblings who understand that their lives are much better compared tothat of their ill family members. Although most of the emotionaleffects caused by the disorder are negative, there are a few familymembers who become empathetic and demonstrate love for their sicksisters, brothers, or parents (Dawe & Montgomery, 2003). Theseemotional effects caused by schizophrenia affect the cognitive aswell as the physical development of other family members.
Schizophreniais one of the most expensive long-term illnesses to treat, whichimplies that it has adverse effects on the financial status of thefamilies of the sick persons. Costs associated with schizophreniainclude charges for medication, hospitalization, doctors, specialtreatment, and travel. Patients who are hospitalized in health carefacilities with research, training, and teaching facilities paybetween $ 300 and $ 400 every day (Pfeiffer, Mailloux & Forsythe,1988). In addition, patients pay between $ 100 and $ 125 for everyhour of their contact with a psychiatrist. Medication is one of themost troubling components of the treatment costs. The cost ofmedication varies depending on the type of drugs that the health careproviders prescribe for the patient. For example, a weekly injectioncan cost up to $ 300, while tablets can cost up to $ 1 each(Pfeiffer, Mailloux & Forsythe, 1988). These costs can be toohigh, especially for a poor family and medium income earningfamilies.
Theburden of care-giving
Mostof the patients suffering from schizophrenia cannot take care ofthemselves. This implies that the family members are forced to assumethe roles as well as the responsibility of taking care of them.Family members should feed the patient, administer drugs, and helpthem with other activities of daily living. The caregiver shouldpreserve some of the negative symptoms of the sickness, which includeloneliness, lack of reciprocity from the patient, unpredictablechanges in mood, and lack of support from the rest of the familymembers (Brandy, 2005). The diseases reduce the productivity ofpatients, which implies that the family members should take care ofall expenses (including the personal ones) of the sick people.According to Pfeiffer, Mailloux & Forsythe (1988) about 57 % ofthese patients earn less than $ 10,000, 25 % earn between $ 10,000and $ 20,000, and 15 % earn slightly above $ 20,000 per year. Thisshows that the diseases reduce the earning capacity of the patient,which in turn forces the family members to support the sick personsfinancially.
Schizophreniais one of the common mental disorders that affect the well-being ofboth the infected persons the family members of the patients.Different family members respond to the sickness of one of theirfamily members in different ways. The family members who feel thatthey might have contributed towards the occurrence of the sicknesstend to acquire internalized shame and blame themselves. In addition,schizophrenia affects the emotional stability of the family membersin different ways. Most of the family members, especially the parentsfeel depressed and suffer from anxiety following the ill health oftheir children. At times, some of the healthy children feel neglectedwhen they compare the parental attention that the sick siblingsreceive from the parents and the attention that they are accorded.Parents and the adult siblings assume the caregiver as well as thefinancial burdens of the taking care of the sick family members.
Brandy,N. (2005). Living with schizophrenia: A family perspective. OnlineJournal Issues in Nursing.Retrieved December 10, 2014, fromhttp://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/499269_1
Dawe,F. & Montgomery, J. (2003). Learningabout schizophrenia: Rays of hope (3rded.).Ontario: Schizophrenia Society of Canada.
Pfeiffer,C., Mailloux, R. & Forsythe, L. (1988). Theschizophrenias: Ours to conquer.Princeton: The Schizophrenia Foundation of New.
Smith,M. (2008). Basicfacts about schizophrenia.Richmond, BC: British Columbia Schizophrenia Society.