Find Out More About Schizophrenia
It could help to learn about the symptoms they might experience and the coping strategies they could find useful. You may find it helpful to read personal stories or speak to others in the same situation. See our useful contacts page for organisations that can help with this.
Getting advice from professionals
If you are caring for someone with schizophrenia, you should be able to talk to their doctor, care team or other professionals involved in their care.
Even if someone doesn’t want medical details to be shared with you, it should still be possible for you to ask for advice and information. They should also talk to you about your needs as a carer.
You might find it helpful to think about what questions you particularly want to ask. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has a list for family members and carers of useful questions to ask doctors about schizophrenia.
Stick By And Advocate For Them
For someone with schizophrenia, having people they trust who will stick by them no matter the circumstances is important.
Speak up against discrimination and stigma. Some people with schizophrenia experience internalized stigma, which may affect the persons self-esteem and self-efficacy.
In turn, this may affect various aspects of their life, including personal relationships, overall quality of life, or the effectiveness of treatment plans.
Internalized stigma may even increase risk of suicidal thoughts or intent.
Therefore, researchers have highlighted the importance of preventing internalized stigma and promoting positive beliefs about oneself.
Tip : Take Care Of Yourself
Making simple lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on the way you feel as well as your symptoms.
Try to get plenty of sleep.;When youre on medication, you most likely need even;more sleep;than the standard 8 hours. Many people with schizophrenia have trouble with sleep, but getting regular exercise, reducing sugar in your diet, and avoiding caffeine can help.
Avoid alcohol and drugs.;It can be tempting to try to self-medicate the symptoms of schizophrenia with drugs and alcohol. But substance abuse complicates schizophrenia treatment and only worsens symptoms. If you have a substance abuse problem,;seek help.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet.;Eating regular, nutritious meals can help avoid psychosis and other schizophrenia symptoms brought on by substantial changes in blood sugar levels. Minimize sugar and refined carbs, foods that quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy. Boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish, fish oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds to help improve focus, banish fatigue, and balance your moods.
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How To Help The Reluctant Loved One
If your loved one is reluctant to go to the doctor, they may just feel they do not have control over the situation. You might want to offer a list of respected physicians for them to choose from. You may ask them if they have any doctors they prefer or to make a list of some to consider.
Let them have a voice in their own treatment. No one likes to be excluded when discussing treatment. Listen to what they say without judgment.
Encourage self-help steps. In between episodes of schizophrenia, ask them if they want to join you in a healthy meal or ask if they are eating healthily. Mention some stress relief activities, like walking, exercising, listening to music, or other quiet options. You might want to inquire if they are receiving good social support. Strong social support can boost their self-esteem, and help them feel less helpless and hopeless,says HelpGuide.
Other steps you can take to support your loved one with schizophrenia,as suggested by the National Alliance on Mental Illness :
When they are experiencing delusions or hallucinations, respond calmly. Dont tell them its all imaginary because they believe what they see is real. Explain respectfully that you see things differently. Know what the triggers are for them and be aware of the situations that bring them. You can help your loved one try to avoid the trigger points or curtail regular activities.
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.
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Speaking To Your Loved One About Getting Help
Help Them Find A Purpose
Its important for everyone to find a purpose in life, whether thats a job, taking care of a pet, or writing a blog. Its equally important for those with schizophrenia.;
Help them find and serve a purpose, Kaye says. This may be helping with family tasks or seeking out volunteer opportunities and employment. Brainstorm these opportunities with your loved one and provide transportation to these places if needed.;
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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 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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When Caring For Someone With Paranoid Schizophrenia Its Important To Avoid Certain Words Or Phrases So That You Dont Agitate Them Hurt Their Feelings Or Seem Insensitive
Its also important to remember that dealing with schizophrenia is extremely difficult, and this person may rely on you for love and support. Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects every aspect of a persons life. From relationships to work performance, a person with this disorder may go to great lengths just to maintain their symptoms. If you have a spouse, friend, or family member with this disorder, the way you communicate with them is important. As a Banyan mental health center that treats this condition, were sharing examples of what not to say to someone with schizophrenia.
What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment
If you are not happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor about your treatment options,
- ask for a second opinion,
- get an advocate to help you speak to your doctor,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
You should first speak to your doctor about your treatment. Explain why you are not happy with it. You could ask what other treatments you could try.
Tell your doctor if there is a type of treatment that you would like to try. Doctors should listen to your preference. If you are not given this treatment, ask your doctor to explain why it is not suitable for you.
A second opinion means that you would like a different doctor to give their opinion about what treatment you should have. You can also ask for a second opinion if you disagree with your diagnosis.
You dont have a right to a second opinion. But your doctor should listen to your reason for wanting a second opinion.
An advocate is independent from the mental health service. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.
There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like.
The Patient Advice and Liaison Service
You can find out more about:
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How To Deal With Psychosis:
How you respond to a loved one with psychosis can make a big difference in your ability to maintain a relationship with them.;Bear with me while I try to explain:
Imagine standing next to your loved one while communicating. Try to see what they are saying through their eyes and not your own. You are by their side listening and not challenging them head-on. Focus on the emotion of the conversation not whether the facts are plausible. When they speak, listen to the themes in what they are saying. There are usually reality-based themes sewn in and that is what you can focus on.
Try To Limit Power Struggles
Schizophrenia usually sets in during late adolescence, a time when young people are;craving independence and freedom. But whatever the age of your loved one, people with schizophrenia don’t want to be micromanaged and hounded about everything from taking medications to cleaning their rooms, Baker says.
Rather than using words like, “You need to go out and get a job,” she advises caregivers to focus on the person’s own goals and what needs to be done to achieve them. “We want to think about individuals moving down the same path they would have chosen if they had never been diagnosed,” she says. Family therapists can often help families avoid power struggles and work on dialogue that benefits a person with schizophrenia.
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How To Help Someone With Schizophrenia Tip #: Focus On Yourself First Before Helping Someone With Schizophrenia
Dealing with a family members schizophrenia successfully implies you have to give priority in taking self-care. Your needs should not go ignored. Instead look for healthy ways to meet the challenges.
Focus on yourself first before helping someone with schizophrenia. Put your oxygen mask first. Your loved one suffering with schizophrenia alone does not require help, in fact, you are going to support your loved one and so you also equally require help, understanding and a lot of encouragement. This is required as you will turn to be more supportive and can take better care of your loved one in the fittest possible way.
Understand the value of managing stress. Schizophrenia causes terrible stress on the family members. In case you are less careful, it will quickly wrap you in this burn out. Moreover, you being the caretaker cannot be stressed or overwhelmed. This is because you will make the schizophrenia victim more stressed. Thus, balancing your stress levels and keeping them under control is important and is the best favor you can do for your loved one who has schizophrenia.
What Is Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental illness. People with this disease may:
Hear voices that others don’t hear
Think that other people can control their thoughts
Think that people are out to get them
Have trouble making plans, speaking, expressing feelings, or feeling happy
Have trouble making decisions, paying attention, and remembering
These symptoms can make it hard to talk with other people. People with schizophrenia often avoid their friends and family.
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What You Can Do
Focus on your concern for your loved one’s safety and try to form a partnership. Don’t confront delusional or inappropriate thoughts.
“Try to listen and empathize whole-heartedly with your loved one’s perspectives, even when his or her beliefs seem outlandish, bizarre, distorted, or delusional,” says Jason Bermak, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist in San Francisco.
If your loved one is paranoid, talk with them alone so they don’t feel threatened by a group, says San Diego psychiatrist David M. Reiss, MD.
If they are not paranoid, having a group of known and trusted friends or family members talk to them may give them a sense of agreement and concern. A group is also best if they have a tendency to “turn” on one person.
How Is Schizophrenia Treated
There are different types of treatment available. Medical professionals should work with you to find the right treatment for you. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that you should be offered a combination of medication and talking therapies.
People who live with schizophrenia can respond to treatment differently.
For many treatment helps to reduce symptoms to help make daily life easier. You may find that you need to continue with treatment to keep well. For every 5 people with schizophrenia:
- 1 will get better within 5 years of their first obvious symptoms.
- 3 will get better but will have times when they get worse again.
- 1 will have troublesome symptoms for long periods of time.
What medication should I be offered?
Your doctor may offer you medication known as an antipsychotic. These reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia, but dont cure the illness. Your healthcare professionals should work with you to help choose a medication. If you want, your carer can also help you make the decision. Doctors should explain the benefits and side effects of each drug.
In the past, some antipsychotics had negative side effects. Some people find that the side effects of newer antipsychotic drugs are easier to manage.
Your medication should be reviewed at least once a year.
What type of psychosocial treatment will I be offered?
Family intervention is where you and your family work with mental health professionals to help to manage relationships.
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Avoiding Drugs And Alcohol
While alcohol and drugs may provide short-term relief from your symptoms, they’re likely to make your symptoms worse in the long run.
Alcohol can cause depression and psychosis, while illegal drugs may make your schizophrenia worse. Drugs and alcohol can also react badly with antipsychotic medicines.
If you’re currently using drugs or alcohol and;finding it hard to stop, ask your care co-ordinator or GP for help.
Take Steps To Help Them Avoid Alcohol And Illicit Drugs
When some people with schizophrenia experience symptoms, such as hearing voices, they may seek relief by using alcohol and drugs, which work quickly to help them feel different. Caregivers can help prevent substance abuse by clearing the house of drugs and alcohol and by talking to their loved one about how abstaining from drugs and alcohol can help them maintain their overall health and achieve their goals.
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Identifying The Signs Of Schizophrenia
The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia can be difficult to recognize. For example, a teen who lives with the disorder may experience angry outbursts and academic problems that parents might consider to be common adolescent behavior.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, common signs of schizophrenia include:
- Sleep problems
- Seeing and hearing things that do not exist
- Trouble completing tasks at home, school or work
- Violent behaviors
A person living with schizophrenia may consistently seem paranoid. They may accuse other people or the government of spying on them, seem easily distracted or believe that they possess superhuman abilities.
Investigate How The Delusion Is Affecting The Person’s Life
- Assess if and how the delusions are interfering with a persons life. For example, are they are no longer able to function or participate in regular everyday life?
- Assess if the delusion is affecting a persons relationship with others.
- Determine if the person has taken action based on their delusion.
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What Not To Do When Speaking With Someone With Psychotic Thoughts: