International survey on how well families living with serious mental illness are coping.
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News Canada, Information for life. Sherri Dmyterko: Like thousands of Canadians families, the Froggatt family is all too familiar with serious mental illness. Diane Froggatt: When you first realized that your child is living with a mental illness it's an experience like nothing else -- nothing else I have experienced, it's very shocking. You feel frightened, but when you actually do find the help of a physician, then it becomes clear to you what you have to do. Sherri Dmyterko: Serious mental illness often affects the entire family, and in a new international survey called Keeping Care Complete developed by the World Federation for Mental Health and Eli Lilly, Canada suggest that treatment disruption can have serious consequences. Dr. Roger Mclntyre is head of the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit at the University Health Network in Toronto. Dr. Roger. S. Mclntyre: It is currently estimated that approximately 20% of Canadians will be affected by mental disorder sometime in their life. In fact, most Canadians will be affected either directly or indirectly through a colleague at work, friend, or due to family member. Relapses affect family member, the children, the spouse, some of the colleagues, and individuals who have persistent mental disorder such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or schizoaffectives are at risk at of relapse. It's the risk of relapse and the impact on the family that this survey is directly addressed. Sherri Dmyterko: The survey found that among the 134 Canadians caregivers whose family members stopped taking their medication, 92% reported their family member relapsed after discontinuation and 65% of the 134 caregivers who said their family member's medication was changed said their loved one experienced relapse after the switch. In addition, most caregivers said physicians should focus on long-term management of the illness rather than just managing crisis situations. Dr. Roger. S. Mclntyre: When a patient has a relapse, they may be hospitalized, have thoughts of suicide, unable to work or get in trouble with the law. When a medication is found that it works, that medication should remain unchanged. When a physician is prescribing a medication or considering discontinuation, they need to carefully consider the risk and benefits of that treatment and that individual's probability of recurrence. Diane Froggatt: I think what's really important is that the physician is interested in the patient, and in the family. Without that interest, all you might have is the doctor trying a quick fix, but what you really need is long-term care and long-term interest. Sherri Dmyterko: For a support and more information on mental illness, visit mooddisorderscanada.ca., schizophrenia.ca, or world-schizophrenia.org. Sherri Dmyterko reporting.