The unprecedented nature of a lockdown brought on due to COVID-19 is something most of the world has never experienced before. It has brought hardships and required people to reshape their lives in order to comply with all of the new mandates and regulations. These changes were needed to ensure that the most vulnerable portions of our society were safe and not exposed to the virus. However, one group that ended up getting overlooked were the people suffering from mental illness. People dealing with conditions such as schizophrenia have been impacted in multiple aspects of their illness. These aspects include their symptoms, treatments, and management plan.
Isolation from the outside world is something even people who don’t suffer from mental illnesses have had trouble coping with. In people with schizophrenia, this isolation is believed to have profound effects on their symptoms. In one article, it described how this detachment from social interaction could lead to an uptick in psychosis or “the exacerbation of symptoms” in people with schizophrenia (Hamada & Fan, 2020). This isn’t all that far-fetched of a claim since one common behavior observed in people with schizophrenia is the avoidance of social interaction. So, in a day and age where being social isn’t really as prevalent as it once was, these people can now completely remove themselves from all daily interactions and it might go unnoticed by their support system.
For some people who have schizophrenia, finding high-quality effective treatment was already a difficult thing to do. However, due to new regulations, getting access to those treatments have been a little more complicated. While there are therapy options that can be done over the internet and in video calls, the one-to-one in-person experience is hard to replicate through a screen. This isn’t really a problem with inpatients with schizophrenia because they are monitored in a hospital and their doctors know who and what they have been exposed to. Conversely, for outpatients (people who receive medical treatment without being admitted to a hospital) with schizophrenia, gaining access to one-on-one in-person sessions is difficult. The reason is because these face-to-face interactions are discouraged due to the increased risk of transmission between the doctors and patients. As a result, doctors fear that there will be an increase in service disengagement and medication nonadherence in people with schizophrenia (Kozloff et al., 2020).
The most influential area for people with schizophrenia is the management of their symptoms, which refers to how they are handling their daily lives. Antonio, who is a blogger diagnosed with schizophrenia, discussed how he has managed his symptoms during lockdown. He said, “…living with schizophrenia, along with being on lock down can trigger memories of being in hospital, on section. So, in this case, it really does help alternating the environment as much as possible.” He further discussed how important it was to make a schedule and stick to it, while seeing his mental health as a work in progress (My experience of living with schizophrenia during lockdown, 2020). This advice is echoed by medical professionals, who added other bits of advice on how to manage schizophrenia during COVID-19. Some of the suggestions included avoiding alcohol and illicit drugs, exercising, and limiting exposure to information surrounding the pandemic (Leonard, 2020). The ability for people with schizophrenia to follow these pieces of advice will have a large impact on how lockdown affects them.
Lockdown has had an impact on people throughout the country who are battling mental illness. With seemingly no end in sight, it could be hard for them to honestly believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, Antonio is a symbol who shows that taking it one step at a time is necessary in maintaining one’s sanity. Believing in that sentiment can help people struggling during lockdown to see that the proper management of their symptoms and treatments is an attainable goal.
Hamada, K., & Fan, X. (2020). The impact of COVID-19 on individuals living with serious mental illness. Schizophrenia Research, 222, 3–5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2020.05.054
Kozloff, N., Mulsant, B. H., Stergiopoulos, V., & Voineskos, A. N. (2020). The COVID-19 Global Pandemic: Implications for People With Schizophrenia and Related Disorders. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 46(4), 752–757. https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbaa051
My experience of living with schizophrenia during lockdown. (2020, May 22). Time To Change. https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/blog/my-experience-living-schizophrenia-during-lockdown
Leonard, J. (2020, May 13). Schizophrenia and COVID-19: Impact and management. Medicalnewstoday.Com; Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/schizophrenia-and-covid-19#management