Between 30 to 40 per cent of mental illnesses in the UAE are schizophrenia-related, while another 30 to 40 per cent belong to the bipolar disorder category.
This was one of the issues highlighted at a medical symposium on mental illness organised by AstraZeneca in Dubai and Abu Dhabi today.
Leading doctors practicing in the UAE threw light on mental illnesses prevailing in the country and discussed the effectiveness of Quetiapine Sustained Release, approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for the treatment of acute depressive, manic and mixed episodes of bipolar disorder.
Dr. Alaa Haweel, Consultant and Psychiatrist, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, said: “Genetics for schizophrenia are still not identified. Heredity plays a big role in transferring the disease. Spend on these diseases is high from the government of the UAE. The man-days lost by patients due to this disease are huge”.
The basic difference between the two types of mental illness is that in bipolar disorder the patient can return to 100 per cent normalcy, while in the case of schizophrenia the patient will continue to show abnormal behaviour with periodic relapses. Schizophrenia severely affects the patient’s social and professional life.
In another revelation, Dr Alaa said that severe cases of catatonic schizophrenia, which is marked by epileptic fits, had disappeared from the UAE because of the advancement in healthcare in the country.
Dr. Hafez Amin, Consultant and Psychiatrist, Zayed Military Hospital, said schizophrenia was treated in non-medical way in the UAE due to social factors, while stressing that the sooner a patient is taken to a doctor, the better chance he has of a cure or improvement. Patients’ symptoms include delusions like people looking at them or arranging conspiracies against them, accompanied by behavioural disorders. This disease could be biological or hereditary.”
Dr. Amin revealed that the per-patient spending in the UAE on schizophrenia treatment stood at Dh. 1000 per month, and thanked the government for providing treatment for free. He praised the UAE healthcare industry in general and Psychiatric industry as being on par with advanced countries.
Dr. Amin said 60 per cent of patients are not fully cured because they don’t follow the treatment strictly. About 80 per cent of the patients don’t go directly to a doctor on first symptoms.
Patients of bipolar disorder experience episodes of mania and depression alongside periods of normal mood, with symptoms ranging from trouble concentrating and sleep disturbance to high-risk behavior and thoughts of suicide.
Dr Amin said:” Quetiapine Sustained Release from AstraZeneca enhances compliance. Also, the once daily dosage makes it easier on the patient to comply with the treatment, eliminating drug fluctuation in the blood leading to positive results”.
Quetiapine Sustained Release is approved in the US and 25 other countries for the treatment of schizophrenia in adult patients and for maintenance treatment of schizophrenia in adult patients. It was launched in the US in 2007 and earlier this year AstraZeneca announced the submission of regulatory applications in both the US and European Union for Quetiapine Fumarate in the treatment of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, and treatment of depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder. Quetiapine Sustained Release tablets have been approved for the treatment of Schizophrenia in the UAE and Bahrain.
Quetiapine has been prescribed to more than 22 million patients worldwide. It is approved in 88 countries for the treatment of schizophrenia, in 79 countries for the treatment of bipolar mania, and in 11 countries including the US for the treatment of bipolar depression.