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How should I tackle my schizophrenic mother?

Q: How should we behave with my schizophrenic mother? She has been suffering from this illness for a long time, but was diagnosed much later. She is reserved and reluctant to mix with outsiders. But she is very intelligent and talks well to known people and can manage her day-to-day activities. I had a love marriage. Due to various circumstances and her illness, I had to register it against her wishes, which shocked her. But she recovered with the support of my father, my relatives, my husband and my in-laws. Unfortunately, within 2 years of the marriage, my father faced a slow death with NHL inspite of our care. She completely went into depression, which doctors called as acute psychosis. With the help of my cousin doctor, we gave her good treatment and she has recovered. She stopped taking medicines after a year of medication. We have found no change in her thoughts. She imagines that people are planning lots of things on her, including my in-laws who contrived a plan for my marriage. How will this affect her if she continues? She has come out of acute psychosis, but still has remnants of her imaginations. I being the only daughter have the responsibility to take care of her. I have a good, supporting husband and we understand the importance of being supportive to parents in their old age. Due to traditional beliefs my mother is not willing to come and stay with me. She feels uncomfortable with my father-in-law. How should I work out this situation? My mother-in-law is no more and my father-in-law stays with his elder son and comes to our home from time to time. Should we make her talk to my father-in-law? My husband and I are from different communities, though of the same religion. My mother gets tense when we perform the customs of both the families. She gets tense when we follow traditions from my husband's family. I am afraid of the relapse of her tense behaviour.

A:Schizophrenia is a kind of mental disorder, which if left untreated has debilitating consequences not only for the patient, but his or her family as well. From what you report, it seems that in your mother’s case there is not only been a delay in diagnosing it, but follow up of the treatment has also not been regular. First and foremost, you need to consult a psychiatrist and start her treatment immediately. Such patients not only try to evade treatment as they feel that there is nothing wrong with them, but even when under medication, they are not regular with it. This makes it important for the family to take responsibility for the same as the treatment is often long and requires frequent follow up. Besides medication psychotherapy is also an essential aspect of the treatment. It is important that such patients are not left alone. If your mother is not ready to stay with you, one option can be that you can hire a trained attendant or a psychiatric nurse after consulting her psychiatrist. Remember that consistent treatment, compassion and support are the key requirements for such patients.


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