Part 2 Of 4: Taking An Active Role
Someone I Love Has Been Diagnosed With Schizophrenia How Can I Help
We naturally want to help a loved one who isnt feeling well. How we can or should help may seem fairly obvious when a loved one experiences a physical health problem, but many people say theyre not sure how to best help when a loved one experiences a mental illness like schizophrenia. Here are some tips:
Tip 4: Watch For Signs Of Relapse
Stopping medication is the most frequent cause of relapse in schizophrenia, so its extremely important that your family member continues to take all medication as directed. While relapse can occur even if a person is taking medication as prescribed, you may be able to prevent a full-blown crisis by recognizing the warning signs and taking immediate steps.
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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.
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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Encourage Them To Schedule Regular Doctor Appointments
People with schizophrenia may not believe that they have an illness or need medical help. Despite these beliefs, keeping doctor appointments is critical. The sooner the person is treated, she says, the better the outcome. Arguing with people with schizophrenia or attempting to convince them that the voices they hear don’t exist isn’t an effective way to get them to seek treatment. Instead, Baker recommends reminding people with schizophrenia how treatment can help them reach whatever goals they may have for their lives. There needs to be a sense of motivation on the persons part, she says.
What Kind Of Reaction Can I Expect
A person with schizophrenia may not respond in the way we might expect in a normal conversation. Your words may be met with silence or monosyllabic answers. In some cases, the person may say that they are extremely interested in what you want to discuss, but their facial expression and tone may not reflect the same. You may be confused and try to understand whether this enthusiasm is genuine, or may wonder why the person is sending out mixed signals. Its important to understand and acknowledge that these changes in behavior are brought about by the illness. You may need to be patient and persistent with the person and wait for a satisfactory response.
Try not to let your own discomfort, hesitations or anxieties come into the picture, as this might make it harder for the person to relate to the conversation.
Remember, a person with schizophrenia may not emote; this does not mean that they arent experiencing intense feelings. Similarly, they may not speak out loud, but this doesnt mean they dont have an opinion.
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How To Live With Someone With Schizophrenia
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.
I Wish It Was More Acceptable
To talk about schizophrenia on social media
Im constantly seeing people talk about depression or anxiety or even bipolar but never schizophrenia or schizoaffective
I agree. There seems to be so much less stigma attached to other mental illnesses
Everybody is depressed or anxious these days. Its very mainstream. Even bipolar is to some extent. Sz and sza are still very hush hush.
Most of the people who know me know that I struggle with depression. I am happy to leave it there. I tell close family members about voices and paranoia but other people dont get the full story.
I think it would be great if there were more examples to look to of people who had recovered or were managing symptoms who ended up living full lives. Theres definitely some people on this forum I think who are doing a good job of it. Sometimes I think thats why I like this forum, it reminds that there people who are worse off and it also inspires me that there are those doing better.
Oh wow, this is awesome! Thanks for the link.
Schizophrenia affects such a small potion of the population and is often described as one of the most debilitating mental health conditions. Most people cant be bothered learning about something that affects so few people and when they do hear about it, it is usually something bad in the news.
Depression and Anxiety are much more common, even more so during this pandemic so a lot of people understand them and relate to them or know someone affected by them.
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Help Them Maintain Their Social Skills
People with schizophrenia tend to reverse the sleep cycle, staying awake late into the night and then waking up in the afternoon, Baker says. Sleeping in late can disrupt routines and encourage isolation. Other symptoms of schizophrenia, such as social withdrawal and poor interpersonal skills, can also contribute to this isolation.
Caregivers can help their loved one maintain social skills by adhering to routines, including planned social activities and outings. Take an active role by getting the person into a community program, taking him or her to the park every week, or initiating contact with friends, Baker suggests.
When To Seek Other Housing Options
In some situations, living with family may be problematic. Examples include:
- The main caregiver is single, ill, or elderly.
- The person with schizophrenia is so ill that there is little chance of leading a normal family life.
- The situation causes stress in the marriage or leaves children in the home feeling afraid and resentful.
- Most family events revolve around the person with schizophrenia.
- Support services are unavailable.
Residential options can help your whole family, and it doesnt have to be a permanent thing either.;A lot of guilt can come with sending a family member to a facility to treat schizophrenia.
Try to remember that these facilities exist because of the challenges you and your household are facing. Using these services doesnt mean youre casting away your family member or that youve given up.;
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Help Them Maintain A Healthy Weight
Medications to treat schizophrenia can cause weight gain, which can increase the risk of obesity-related health conditions. Eating a nutritious diet is the best way to maintain a healthy weight, but not everyone can plan their meals in advance.
Baker says that caregivers can help by accompanying the person with schizophrenia to the grocery store and talking to him or her about healthy foods. A nutritionist can also help teach your loved one about making nutritious choices and educate them about meal planning. Regular exercise is also an important part of managing weight, so encourage your loved one to stay physically active.
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.
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Tips For Dating With Schizophrenia
Treatment builds the foundation for being able to develop healthy relationships. When you feel ready, start with friendships and meeting new people. You shouldnt feel rushed to start dating just because it is expected. Take your time and progress at your comfort level. When you are ready to date, here are some tips that may help:
- Set reasonable expectations. It may take you longer to find someone and you may face more challenges. Be prepared, but dont give up hope.
- Go slow, and date at a pace you feel comfortable with. Dont let anyone pressure you to take things faster than you want. That isnt the right person for you.
- Tell someone youve met about schizophrenia in your own time. You dont need to open with it, but do be honest within the first few dates.
- Be patient with someone you meet and like who is hesitant when they find out you have schizophrenia. Dont dismiss them right away. Talk to them about what it means and how you cope. Give them the chance to accept your diagnosis and decide if it is something they can live with.
- Know when its not the right time to date. If you dont feel up to it or if things arent going well, take a break. Work on your mental health and relationships with family and friends until you feel ready again.
How Treatment Can Help You Build Relationships
Living with schizophrenia, it is possible to meet people, to socialize and make friends, and to have a loving intimate relationship. The best way to find a path to a healthy relationship is to treat your illness. Schizophrenia is not a flaw or weakness; it is a real disease. As a chronic disease, it requires ongoing treatment.
If you have struggled to connect with others, treatment can help. First, it helps indirectly by giving you tools for reducing symptoms and managing them when they arise. Medications and therapy help you keep symptoms under control, which in turn will make it easier for you to meet people and establish close relationships.
More specifically, treatment will directly tackle the issue of relationships. It starts with your family and fellow residents in treatment. Therapists work with you to learn how to connect with people. Its a skill for everyone, but some people need more practice. Youll work with your family and supportive residents to practice communication, emotional responses, trust, and more.
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What Not To Say To Someone With Schizophrenia
1. Dont be rude or unsupportive. Instead, be tolerant and listen to what they are saying. If they are being dangerous or inappropriate, do call for help. You dont want to be in a dangerous situation.
2. Dont bully them into doing something they dont want to do. Instead, ask them if there is someone you could call for them. A friend, parent, social worker, or therapist are all good options.
3. Dont interrupt them. Let them talk, even if they are rambling. Having someone listen is being supportive of their condition. According to Dr. Xavier Amador in his book, I Am Not Sick. I Dont Need Help!,stop arguing and start listening to your loved one in a way that leaves him feeling that his point of view is being respected.
4. Dont assume you know what they need. Instead, ask them what they would need to feel better, says the UKs Mental Health Foundation. Perhaps its a glass of water, or sitting down, or having a favorite item nearby. Help them with whatever will help soothe them.
5. Dont second guess or diagnose them. Diagnosis is for doctors. Youre there to be supportive, not give medical judgment.
6. Dont use words that make you seem like an enemy. Dont say, stop that, or Ill call the police, but instead reassure them that you are on their side and that you want to help them.
10. Dont use a strong voice. Instead use soft, gentle language, so the person knows youre to be trusted.
Crisis Helpline Contact Info
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255
- The International Association for Suicide Prevention: Visit their website for crisis helplines and other resources outside the United States
- Meet them on their level:Your loved one has schizophrenia even when you cant see their symptoms. It can be more difficult for them to stay focused and concentrated, finish tasks, or follow through on simple household chores and personal hygiene basics. Be patient, and remember to adjust expectations.
- Assess their housing situation:Considering the examples below can help you determine what is best and if you have enough resources on hand to safely support your loved one.;
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Goal Setting In Action
Research in 2016 suggests that exercise may improve symptoms of schizophrenia, along with overall quality of life and functioning.
So lets say your loved one is interested in exercising more as an add-on to their treatment plan. To start:
- Think of a SMART goal: This could be to do 30 minutes of aerobic exercises 3 days a week for the next 4 weeks.
- Create an action plan: This may entail figuring out what specific type of physical activity your loved one wants to do.
- Maintain motivation: To keep them motivated, encourage them to stick with their goal. For instance, you could offer to set the same goal for yourself and tag along.
- Keep things positive: Emphasize your loved ones strengths and things that are going well, rather than focusing on their limitations, setbacks, or perceived weaknesses. A positive approach can be more effective in the long run over criticism.
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.
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Doing Everything For Them
When your loved one is unable to do chores, errands, or daily tasks, you might try to help by taking over those responsibilities.
But its often more helpful to encourage them to take steps toward doing these things themselves and offering support when needed.
You can also ask if theres anything specific getting in the way of tasks:
- If they havent done laundry because they ran out of laundry soap and feel afraid of leaving the house, you could offer to do a grocery run.
- If they cant prepare meals because a voice threatens them whenever they pick up a knife, you might help them chop a few days worth of vegetables in advance.
You can also offer to help them plan and schedule out weekly responsibilities when you spend time together.