Friday, September 9, 2016

I'm 43 and schizophrenic. According to the statistics, I'll be dead in 17 years

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "'You’ve got a choice. You can either buy cigarettes, or get food to see you through the week. For most people it’s a no-brainer. Of course you’d buy food. But if you’re suffering from schizophrenia, living on the disability support pension and facing other psycho-social challenges, then the choice isn’t so clear. 'Some of my patients will choose cigarettes over food, my clinical specialist nurse told me. They also drink huge amounts of coffee. I’ve even seen people eating dried coffee from the tin.' So what’s going on here? I’m schizophrenic, and aside from dealing with the symptoms of the illness, there’s another statistic which I’m struggling to come to grips with. People with schizophrenia tend to live between 14 and 20 years less than the general community. 'With schizophrenia, my thoughts can be like pieces of a mismatched jigsaw puzzle'  Joshua Gliddon
I’m also 43. The average life expectancy for a non-Indigenous Australian male is around 80 years, a bit longer for women. I smoke, and weigh more than I should. According to the statistics, I’ve got about another 17 years left in me. That’s quite sobering." That is the truth when I smoked most of my social security check went on cigarettes and I was thin for that reason. Coffee I had to quit because I drank so much it affected the Moban I was taking and my symptoms would show up. For me coffee was harder to quit than cigarettes my body went through changes when I quit.  Now that I am on Geodon I can drink coffee again but I do not crave like before I only have two cups in the morning and that is enough for me now.
The article goes on to say: "Professor Amanda Baker, a senior researcher at the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) specialising in schizophrenia, told me there are a number of reasons why people with schizophrenia have reduced life expectancies. The big ones are poor lifestyle, unemployment and social isolation. She said that around 85% of people with schizophrenia smoke, compared with approximately 20% of the general population. One of the main reasons people smoke, she said, is that the medications used to treat the illness are often sedative and dulling, and so people use tobacco and caffeine heavily because they’re stimulants. The medications also have other side effects. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, the anti-psychotics used to treat schizophrenia have a negative effect on metabolism. When I was first put on Olanzapine, a potent anti-psychotic, I put on about 25 kilos in a matter of months. I’ve moved onto a different medication since then, but it’s also weight unfriendly, and despite doing moderate exercise, I’ve never been able to shake the weight I gained. According to Baker, until recently there wasn’t a lot of attention paid to the physical health aspects of serious mental illness. Clinicians didn’t discourage patients from smoking because there was a pervasive attitude that you 'don’t upset the schizophrenics.'" When I quit smoking I put on a lot of weight I lost a lot by walking although the most recently lost was because of the three surgeries for lung cancer. I am trying not to put it back on again.
The article ends: "Not so long ago it was also OK to smoke in psychiatric institutions. Public facilities have clamped down on that, but smoking is still common in private hospitals.
Is there anything that can be done?  'People with schizophrenia are generally more dependent, and have less coping skills than the general population, and that makes it very hard for them to give up or make lifestyle changes,' Baker said. Brain’s immune cells hyperactive in schizophrenia New research links the onset of psychosis to the brain’s inflammatory response.  So the initiative needs to come from both patients and their care team. While psychiatrists in the past were only focused on medication and the mind, these days, said Baker, they are being encouraged to have a wider view of their patient’s health, both physical and mental. What needs to happen is a greater focus by clinicians on the overall wellbeing of their patients. Baker said this is finally occurring. 'Psychiatrists are being encouraged to look after the physical, as well as mental health of their patients, and that means addressing smoking, as well as diet and exercise,' she said. That’s a good start, but for the meantime, people with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia will continue to die young. And that is a major downside of being sick.'" I know if they pass this new tax on cigarettes it is the mental ill that some just will not quit and use all their money to buy the cigarettes.  I know I used to be the same way.  I had  a reason to quit because I wanted my granddaughter to always come over my house.  My daughter did not want her around smoking.  Which I see now was good.

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