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How To Communicate With Someone With Schizophrenia

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How To Live With Someone With Schizophrenia

Mental Health Tips : How to Talk to a Schizophrenic

This article was co-authored by Noel Hunter, Psy.D. Dr. Noel Hunter is a Clinical Psychologist based in New York City. She is the director and founder of MindClear Integrative Psychotherapy. She specializes in using a trauma-informed, humanistic approach for treating and advocating for people diagnosed with mental disorders. Dr. Hunter holds a BA in Psychology from the University of South Florida, an MA in Psychology from New York University, and a doctorate in Psychology from Long Island University. She has been featured in National Geographic, BBC News, CNN, TalkSpace, and Parents magazine. She is also the author of the book Trauma and Madness in Mental Health Services.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 12 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 58,485 times.

Living with someone who has schizophrenia can be incredibly challenging. However, it is important to remember that your loved one needs you, even if he or she doesnt act like it. Scroll down to Step 1 to find out how you can make your their life, and yours, as comfortable as possible.

A Word Of Encouragement:

When someone is psychotic we may have to shift how we measure improvement.;The immediate goal may be the maintenance of a relationship, building trust, and having the opportunity to listen. If you have a relationship with the person you can watch for early warning signs of relapse or worsening of the current psychotic episode. You can keep an eye on medication compliance, side effects, and their physical health. You can also alert the treatment team to any concerning changes.

This website has a great;toolkit;for intervention with psychosis. It is full of helpful and supportive resources.

It can take a village to help someone in a psychotic episode. Be kind to yourself and give yourself space if you need it. Get support and see a therapist. See a psychiatrist for a consult about your loved one. The psychiatrist can help educate about symptoms and treatment options, brainstorm with you, and coach you about ways to handle situations.

Visit my;Mental Health Bookstore;for doctor recommended books about psychosis and schizophrenia.

Read;here;to learn more about 3 different types of;paranoia.

Tip : Build Your Support Network

To better support and care for someone with schizophrenia, you need to find help, encouragement, and understanding from others. The more support you have, the better it will be for both you and your loved one.

Recognize your own limits. Be realistic about the level of support and care you can provide. You cant do it all, and you wont be much help to a loved one if youre exhausted, so seek help where you can.

Join a support group. Meeting others who know first-hand what youre going through can help reduce feelings of isolation and fear. Support groups provide an invaluable venue for the relatives of people with schizophrenia to share experiences, advice, and information.

Turn to trusted friends and family members. Ask loved ones if you can call on them for support. Most people will be flattered by your request.

Seek out new friends. If you dont feel that you have anyone to turn to, its never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.

Take advantage of support services. Ask your loved ones doctor or therapist about respite services and other support available in your area, or contact local hospitals and mental health clinics.

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Dont Attempt To Diagnose Them

Unless youre their doctor, do not attempt to diagnose your loved one. This can not only seem insensitive, but it can also be dismissive of their feelings. If your friend, spouse, or family member is potentially showing signs of a mental illness, get them help. There are many dangers of misdiagnosed mental disorders that can be avoided if you encourage the person to seek out professional medical advice.

Caring For A Partner Who Has Schizophrenia

How to Communicate With Someone With Schizophrenia ...

Frank Baron, who has schizoaffective disorder, a type of mental illness that triggers symptoms similar to schizophrenia, says that when someone is newly diagnosed with a disorder like schizophrenia, their loved ones should try to show compassion. The best thing to say is, I love you and I care about you. This doesnt change how I feel about you, he says.

Caring for a loved one who has schizophrenia can be a huge job thats both tiring and frustrating at times. The following advice can help keep the relationship going strong. To find more resources, you can also contact your local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness or ask your doctor or therapist for information about local support groups.

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How To Communicate With Someone Living With Schizophrenia


Rashmi Parmar, M.D., Psychiatrist at Community Psychiatry + MindPath Care Centers provides helpful tips for communicating with a loved one who has schizophrenia.

If someone you care about has schizophrenia, there are ways you can keep the lines of communication open. Communication is one of the best ways to keep your relationships strong and healthy. When someone you know lives with schizophrenia, communicating well is still important but can come with unique challenges. It is very hard to see or understand things from the affected persons perspective, which creates problems in daily communication, says Dr. Rashmi Parmar, psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry.

Understanding their condition and knowing what to say and not say can help strengthen the lines of communication and your relationships.

Do Use Simple Directions And Language

A person having a schizophrenic episode may be confused or struggle to understand elaborate directions. If youre trying to talk to them and calm them down, its best to offer guidance using simple language. You can say things like, Sit and lets talk. Help them by letting them speak, not interrupting, and just communicating slowly and clearly.

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What To Do If You Suspect Someone Is Suicidal

If you suspect your spouse may be suicidal, try to talk to them about it.

Ask: Are you thinking about killing yourself? You will not be putting ideas in their head by asking this question. Most people who are thinking about suicide are willing to talk about it.

Ask: Do you have a plan? and, Have you taken any steps to carry it out?

Show interest and understanding:

  • Statements like: You should appreciate how lucky you are! or But you have everything to live for! can make your spouse feel guiltier, worthless or misunderstood.
  • Remain available to talk. Try not to turn off the discussion.
  • Try to remain calm.

Stay with them or ask someone else to stay with them and contact a mental health professional, suicide prevention worker or police.

Get professional help, even if they have sworn you to secrecy or claimed they will get help.

Petition for an involuntary commitment if:

  • they have made self-destructive acts.
  • you have any doubt that they will seek help for themselves.

Even if you suspect the suicidal threat is manipulative, getting a professional involved is important for three reasons:

  • It will show your spouse that there are serious consequences for this way of trying to get what they want.
  • Even non-serious attempts can end in death or serious injury by mistake.
  • If anything unfortunate does happen, you will not be burdened with the guilt that you didnt seek professional help.

Do your best to remove anything they could use to harm themselves from your home.


Do Explain Your Actions

How to Support Someone with Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder

Again, during an episode, a person with schizophrenia may struggle to understand things like movements. They may feel extremely afraid and paranoid at that moment, so its important to explain your actions with words. If youre pulling out a chair to sit down, tell them that. If youre pulling out your phone to check something, tell them that. Remember that details matter.

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How To Best Support Someone With Psychosis

This article was first published;here, on the blog of Dr. Melissa Welby

Psychosis can be a terrifying experience for everyone. When a loved one has a psychotic episode, families, and friends are usually not prepared. The first step is figuring out What is psychosis? and getting a basic understanding of what might be happening. After that, plans can be made for how to deal with the psychosis.

People are often too scared to talk to the person because they dont know how to respond to the psychotic thoughts. It is much easier to support them and stay connected if you know the best ways to communicate. Read this to learn how to help someone with psychosis.

I am not going to talk about the treatment options for psychosis or the importance of early intervention in this post. If you would like to read more about this check out;this great resource.

Communication Problems In Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a major thought disorder characterized by a disruption in thought processes, disturbance in perception field, communication problems, and socialization issues. At this point, there is no definitive treatment for schizophrenia. Once the person gets diagnosed, the condition persists and become can become chronic with a tendency to be in its severe and disabling condition.

A schizophrenic individual can manifest various signs and symptoms. In the dark ages of mental health, it is called hysteria because the behaviors and appearance of the person are alarming, in the manic stage, with episodes of hallucinations, illusions, and delusions. In short, they are frightening to look at as if an evil spirit possessed them. Until today, those who dont understand about the mental illness tend to create a barrier between; thus, stigmatization continues.

Persons with schizophrenia have profound communication problems. Speaking to them and understanding their speech patterns can be quite frustrating, atrocious, and terrifying. Psychiatrists explained that schizophrenia is affecting the parts of the brain that are responsible for expressing messages to others as well as comprehending the words of others. Schizophrenic persons both have problems with expressive and receptive language.

Common Problems

The following are common communication problems in people with schizophrenia:

What To Do?

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Maintain Your Social Network

Try to maintain your friendships or the network of people that you have in your life. These will later become important supports as your loved one recovers. Educate them and update them on your loved one’s recovery. People are sometimes afraid to ask questions about schizophrenia and this will put them at ease.

Do Listen More Than You Speak

How to Communicate with Someone Living with Schizophrenia ...

When helping someone with schizophrenia, never assume you know what they need. Dont make decisions or big changes without discussing these changes with them, which can be extremely infuriating. Just because they have schizophrenia does not mean they cant live out their life or make decisions for themselves. Often, this kind of behavior stems from codependency. As a caretaker, it can be easy to become accustomed to helping the person and having them rely on you. But this isnt healthy, and sustaining this kind of behavior can do more harm than good. Be mindful of your intentions and work with the individual instead of trying to take over things for them.

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Communication And Psychosis: It’s Good To Talk But How

Published online by Cambridge University Press:;02 January 2018

Rose McCabe*
Affiliation:Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry, Barts, and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London, UK
Stefan Priebe
Affiliation:Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry, Barts, and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London, UK
Dr Rose McCabe, Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry,Newham Centre for Mental Health, London E13 8SP, UK. Email:

Help Children Cope With Feelings

As outlined above, children may experience a variety of feelings in response to their parents mental illness. Predominant feelings may vary depending on a childs age and level of understanding. For example, guilt or fear are often the predominant feelings for younger children, while anger and embarrassment tend to be common for adolescents.

Whatever feelings your child may be experiencing, here are some suggestions to help them cope with these feelings:

1. Create an atmosphere that encourages children to talk about their feelings:

  • Talk about your own feelings so that they have a role model.
  • Take advantage of moments that provide an opportunity for discussion of feelings.
  • Example:Watching a TV show about a parent who becomes disabled may be an opportunity for discussion.
  • Be available to listen, but dont pressure a child to talk about feelings if they are not willing.

2. When your children do try to express their feelings show them that you are listening:

3. Help your child develop skills for handling strong feelings:

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Dont Take It Personally

Schizophrenia can be a difficult illnessfor everyone. During episodes of psychosis, your loved one may experience frightening sensations that you cant understand. They may act in ways that you dont understand. Other symptoms of schizophrenia can make it hard for people to express emotions or feelings, communicate clearly, or seem interested in others. Its important to know that these are symptoms of an illness. They are no ones fault, but they can still be hard to cope with. Consider reaching out to a family and friends support group for your own support. The BC Schizophrenia Society has a directory of groups around BC at

How Social Workers Help Individuals With Schizophrenia

Talking with a Schizophrenic Part 2

October 24, 2005 at 4:01 pm ;; Posted in About Social Workers by


There are more and better treatments than ever before for schizophrenia, even though it has historically been one of the most difficult mental illnesses to treat. The result is that more and more individuals are recovering with the help of treatments that focus on the biological, psychological, and social aspects of their illnesses. Most individuals with schizophrenia today are able to live in and participate in the community. Helping them figure out what they need to do to accomplish this is something with which social workers can help.

Types of Treatment

Some treatments that have been consistently shown to be effective for people with schizophrenia include:

For most individuals, a case manager can help them learn to handle most of the day-to-day challenges associated with having schizophrenia. The case manager can act as a counselor with whom one can talk regularly.; A case manager;can help a person learn how to access services through public/private systems, and;he or she;can help communicate with other providers to ensure that everyone works together. Most mental health centers that provide case management services offer different levels of service intensity that a person may obtain, depending on their need. Some consumers may only need a check-in once per month, whereas others may need some contact several times per week.

Additional Services
A Final Note

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Taking An Active Role

  • 1Learn to recognize the early signs of relapse. Early detection of the return of psychosis and prompt treatment generally prevent a full relapse. However, you must be aware that relapse in schizophrenia occurs very often; and it cannot be entirely prevented, even when the patient has the best treatment. Although symptoms of relapse are sometimes difficult to detect , pay attention toXResearch source:
  • Subtle changes in the behaviour of your relative, including appetite and sleep problems, irritability, loss of interest in daily activities, and a depressed mood.
  • Clinical PsychologistExpert Interview. 18 December 2020.
  • Talking about things that don’t seem to be based in reality.XExpert SourceNoel Hunter, Psy.DClinical PsychologistExpert Interview. 18 December 2020.
  • 2Ensure that your relative continues getting treatment after hospitalization. A person may stop going to follow up treatment or discontinue the medication, frequently leading to a return of symptoms. Without treatment some people with schizophrenia may become so disorganized that they cannot attend to their basic needs, including food, shelter and clothing. Ways that you can help make sure your loved one is getting all that he or she needs includeXResearch sourceBrian Smith, MS. . Helpful Hints about Schizophrenia for Family Members and Others. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 19, 2014,:
  • Offer to go on walks with your loved one each day. Or, drive him or her to the gym and set up a daily exercise routine.
  • How To Respond To Symptom Changes

    Like other mental health conditions, symptoms of schizophrenia may come and go. You can start by familiarizing yourself with some of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia, along with the possible challenges they pose for communication.

    Psychosis refers to a state where someone might lose sense of reality and experience hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized behavior.

    In schizophrenia, psychosis may also entail a loss of interest in daily activities, an inability to express emotions, and decreased interpersonal communication.

    Heres how you can respond more effectively to your loved one during these symptoms.

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    Procedure And Data Analyses

    Participants completed all cognitive measures on a computer as part of a larger cognitive battery. The participants completed the tasks in this study in the following order: AX-CPT, reading digit span task, visual array comparison, simple Arrow Task, and POP. The clinical assessments were interspersed among the cognitive tasks. Participants with schizophrenia completed the assessment battery over two or three sessions, approximately a week apart , whereas most control participants were able to complete the entire battery in a single session lasting approximately 3 h.

    Helping Someone With Schizophrenia Tip : Encourage Treatment And Self

    How to Talk with Someone with Schizophrenia

    Encouraging treatment and self-help is a cornerstone of helping a loved one with schizophrenia. While medication is an important element of schizophrenia treatment, your loved ones recovery depends on other factors as well. Self-help strategies such as changing to a healthy diet, managing stress, exercising, and seeking social support can have a profound effect on your loved ones symptoms, feelings, and self-esteem. And the more someone does for themselves, the less hopeless and helpless theyll feel, and the more likely their doctor will be able to reduce their medication. Your encouragement and support can be crucial to your loved one starting and continuing a program of self-help.

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