Only two out of 10 with schizophrenia in Mexico receive specialized care

Only two out of 10 with schizophrenia in Mexico receive specialized care

Angeles Cruz Martinez

Newspaper La Jornada
Friday May 13, 2022, p. 9

In Mexico, around one million people live with schizophrenia and it is estimated that only 19 percent receive specialized care. The lack of information is one of the obstacles, since it takes up to a year before those affected arrive with the doctor trained to make the diagnosis and indicate the therapy, said Jesús Ramírez-Bermudez, a specialist at the Manuel Velasco National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery. Suarez.

In a conference, he pointed out that, in addition to the necessary economic investment in the area of ​​mental health, it is necessary to strengthen the preparation of specialists. And it is that only 4 percent of the curricula of medical schools include the subject of mental health.

Ramírez stressed that the identification of schizophrenia in the initial stages is complex because it can be confused with other illnesses. Before the appearance of the most well-known symptoms, such as hallucinations, ideas of harm and persecution, there are other manifestations such as social isolation, difficulty paying attention, memory loss and in the speed of response to solve problems.

It also happens that those who have schizophrenia become indifferent and suspicious, even towards people with whom they had previously maintained an emotional closeness.

When this happens, patients are victims of accusations and discrimination, which also contributes to the delay of adequate medical care.

He commented that the affectation in the ability to think, feel and behave can have a genetic origin and in the environment.

The specialist mentioned, among other risk factors, the lack of stimulation in the early stages of life. Adverse experiences in childhood, and even before birth, have been shown to increase the risk of developing the disorder.

Regarding the diagnosis, it is necessary to carry out physical and neurological studies, to explore whether there has been use of substances such as marijuana, cocaine and other hallucinogens, with respect to which it has been documented that they increase the risk of alterations of the central nervous system.

Doctors should also do hormone function tests, find out if the person has had accidents, and brain injuries that can also cause symptoms of schizophrenia. He explained that an accurate diagnosis is obtained after six months, a period in which, if the symptoms persist, it is enough to declare the existence of schizophrenia.

Regarding the available treatments that should always be used, Ramírez-Bermúdez highlighted the scientific advances by which adverse effects such as parkinsonism, weight gain and metabolic alterations no longer occur.

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