A Taichung psychiatrist warned the public to be aware of the signs of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and difficulty with social interaction, and to seek timely medical attention if symptoms occur.
Chungshan Medical University’s Liao Yin-to (廖尹鐸) said symptoms of psychosis can sometimes go unnoticed until something drastic happens, citing a patient who was brought to him after lashing out at her coworkers, accusing them of listening to her telephone calls.
The woman had been in a well-paid job for six months when she began disassembling her smartphone after suffering from hallucinations.
Schizophrenia generally occurs in younger patients and it manifests itself as paranoia and a loss of connection with reality in the early stages, Liao said.
The illness can affect anyone, he said, adding that the patient had been good academically and had maintained good interpersonal relationships.
Not long into her career she began calling home frequently, complaining that her coworkers were “scheming against her” and that her supervisor was excessively monitoring employees.
Assuming that she had not yet adapted to working life, family members encouraged her to be patient and not to give up her job.
Then the family received a call from her supervisor describing her strange behavior and advising them to take her to hospital, Liao said.
The patient was diagnosed with schizophrenia, but refused treatment, staying at home and not speaking with anyone and not washing, he said.
As her condition worsened she began telling family members that they were also being monitored by her company, he said, adding that the family sought assistance from Chungshan Medical University, who gave the family advice about treating her at home.
After a year of therapy the patient reported no hallucinations and expressed a desire to return to work, he said.
Schizophrenia must be treated promptly within the first five years of its onset or the possibility of a relapse would be high, he said, encouraging family members to seek help from the Ministry of Health and Welfare in the case of patients who refuse to be hospitalized.
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