What Can I Do If A Loved One Shows Signs Of Schizophrenia Or A Similar Condition
Because people with schizophrenia often cant recognize their symptoms or condition, they often dont believe they need medical care or treatment. That can be frustrating or frightening for both the person with the symptoms and those who care about them.
If you notice a loved one showing signs of schizophrenia or a related condition, you can try helping them by doing the following:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Schizophrenia can be a frightening condition for the people who have it and their loved ones. Despite stereotypes, this isnt a condition where any thought of recovery or living a happy, fulfilling life is impossible. If you think you have symptoms of schizophrenia, its important to talk to a healthcare provider as soon as you can. Their job is to help you, and healthcare providers especially those who specialize in mental health conditions like schizophrenia have the training to help you not feel judged, ashamed or embarrassed. If you notice a loved one struggling with symptoms of psychosis or schizophrenia, encourage them gently and supportively to get care. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in helping people recover and manage this condition.
What’s It Like Living With Schizophrenia
Watch Miles talk about his experience of living with schizophrenia.
Positive and negative symptoms
Professionals sometimes talk about schizophrenia symptoms as being ‘positive’ and ‘negative’. But this doesn’t mean ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
- Positive symptoms are experiences or behaviours that the condition adds to your life. Like hearing or seeing things that others don’t, or having a belief that something is real or true when it isn’t.
- Negative symptoms are experiences or behaviours that the condition takes away from your life. Like finding things less interesting or enjoyable, moving your body less, or having less motivation.
Positive Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
Positive symptoms are additional experiences beyond those associated with normal psychological functioning. Positive symptoms associated with schizophrenia include hallucinations and delusions.
Hallucinations are perceptions that are not based in reality, or distorted perceptions of reality.
For example, a schizophrenic person may hallucinate hearing voices that arent really there, or seeing someone who isnt really there.
Delusions are beliefs that are not based in reality.
For example, a schizophrenic person may have a delusion that they are the victim of a grand conspiracy, or that they are an important person with a unique mission .
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How Can I Help A Friend Or Relative With Schizophrenia
It can be difficult to know how to help someone who is experiencing psychosis. Here are some things you can do:
- Help them get treatment and encourage them to stay in treatment.
- Remember that their beliefs or hallucinations seem very real to them.
- Be respectful, supportive, and kind without tolerating dangerous or inappropriate behavior.
- Look for support groups and family education programs, such as those offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
If your loved one is thinking about attempting suicide or otherwise harming themselves or others, seek help right away:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK .
- Text the Crisis Text Line .
What Are The Early Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
The condition usually shows its first signs in men in their late teens or early 20s. It mostly affects women in their early 20s and 30s. The period when symptoms first start and before full psychosis is called the prodromal period. It can last days, weeks, or even years. It can be hard to spot because thereâs usually no specific trigger. You might only notice subtle behavioral changes, especially in teens. This includes:
- A change in grades
- Difficulty sleeping
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What If I Am A Carer Friend Or Relative
It can be distressing if you are a carer, friend or relative of someone who has schizophrenia. You can get support.
How can I get support for myself?
You can do the following.
- Speak to your GP about medication and talking therapies for yourself.
- Speak to your relatives care team about family intervention. For more information about family intervention see the further up this page.
- Speak to your relatives care team about a carers assessment.
- Ask for a carers assessment.
- Join a carers service. They are free and available in most areas.
- Join a carers support group for emotional and practical support. Or set up your own.
What is a carers assessment?NICE guidelines state that you should be given your own assessment through the community mental health team to work out what effect your caring role is having on your health. And what support you need. Such as practical support and emergency support.
The CMHT should tell you about your right to have a carers assessment through your local authority. To get a carers assessment you need to contact your local authority.
How do I get support from my peers?You can get peer support through carer support services or carers groups. You can search for local groups in your area by using a search engine such as Google. Or you can call our advice service on 0808 801 0525. They will search for you.
How can I support the person I care for?
You can do the following.
There is no definition for what high risk means. It could include:
Mental Illness Affects More People Than You Think
It is important that we understand what these two terms mean given the prevalence of mental illness throughout the world. The World Health Organization reports that mental, neurological, and substance use disorders make up 10% of the global burden of disease and 30% of non-fatal disease burden.
In addition, the WHO points out that some 800,000 individuals die by suicide each year, about 20% of the worlds children and adolescents have a mental disorder, and depression affects about 264 million people worldwide.
But mental illness doesnt always indicate ongoing illness. Palmer explained, For example, if someone has the flu, we wouldnt say theyre currently physically healthy. Instead, we might say that theyre sick. Similarly, people can have a temporary bout of mental illness, like depression after a divorce.
The parallels are similar for chronic physical and mental illnesses, he explained. Some people can have mild cases and function fairly normally. Others can be disabled and struggling in their daily lives. Some people may do well day to day, and others might not.
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What Is The Difference Between Schizophrenia And Psychosis
Schizophrenia and psychosis are two strongly connected terms, but they also have significant differences.
- Psychosis: This is a grouping of symptoms that involve a disconnection from reality and the world around you . Psychosis can happen with other medical conditions and mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder.
- Schizophrenia: This is a spectrum of conditions that involve psychotic symptoms.
Attitudes About Mental Illness And Mental Health
A CBS News poll conducted in the fall of 2019 detailed American attitudes and awareness of mental health issues. Almost 90% of respondents said there is some stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness in our society. More than 30% stated that discrimination and stigma associated with mental illness has decreased over the past ten years. However, about 30% said that the situation remains unchanged.
Most of the poll respondents said they had some understanding of conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Many said that they know someone who had been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition. The poll found that most Americans considered mental illness a serious issue.
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Rehabilitation And Living With Schizophrenia
Treatment can help many people with schizophrenia lead highly productive and rewarding lives. As with other chronic illnesses, some patients do extremely well while others continue to be symptomatic and need support and assistance.
After the symptoms of schizophrenia are controlled, various types of therapy can continue to help people manage the illness and improve their lives. Therapy and psychosocial supports can help people learn social skills, cope with stress, identify early warning signs of relapse and prolong periods of remission. Because schizophrenia typically strikes in early adulthood, individuals with the disorder often benefit from rehabilitation to help develop life-management skills, complete vocational or educational training, and hold a job. For example, supported-employment programs have been found to help people with schizophrenia obtain self-sufficiency. These programs provide people with severe mental illness competitive jobs in the community.
For many people living with schizophrenia family support is particularly important to their health and well-being. It is also essential for families to be informed and supported themselves. Organizations such as the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America , Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness offer resources and support to individuals with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses and their families .
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
You should see your healthcare provider as recommended. You should also see them if you notice a change in your symptoms, such as symptoms getting worse even if youre taking your medication. You can also see them if side effects of your medication are causing disruptions in your life. Your healthcare provider can sometimes recommend alternative medications or treatments that might better treat your condition without causing those same effects.
When should I go to ER?
You should go to the ER or call 911 if you have thoughts about harming yourself, including thoughts of suicide, or about harming others. If you have thoughts like this, you can call any of the following:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline . To call this line, dial 1.800.273.TALK .
- Local crisis lines. Mental health organizations and centers in your area may offer resources and help through crisis lines.
- 911 : You should call 911 if you feel like youre in immediate danger of harming yourself. Operators and dispatchers for 911 lines can often help people in immediate danger because of a severe mental crisis and send first responders to assist.
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Why Is Mental Health Important For Overall Health
Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. For example, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.2
What Causes Schizophrenia
Several factors may contribute to a persons risk of developing schizophrenia, including:
- Genetics. Schizophrenia sometimes runs in families. However, just because one family member has schizophrenia, it does not mean that other members of the family also will have it. Studies suggest that many different genes may increase a persons chances of developing schizophrenia, but that no single gene causes the disorder by itself.
- Environment. Research suggests that a combination of genetic factors and aspects of a persons environment and life experiences may play a role in the development of schizophrenia. These environmental factors may include living in poverty, stressful or dangerous surroundings, and exposure to viruses or nutritional problems before birth.
- Brain structure and function. Research shows that people with schizophrenia may be more likely to have differences in the size of certain brain areas and in connections between brain areas. Some of these brain differences may develop before birth. Researchers are working to better understand how brain structure and function may relate to schizophrenia.
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Getting Help For Others
People with psychosis often have a lack of insight. They’re unaware that they’re thinking and acting strangely.
Because of their lack of insight, it’s often down to the friends, relatives, or carers of a person affected by psychosis to seek help for them.
If you’re concerned about someone you know and think they may have psychosis, you could contact their social worker or community mental health nurse if they’ve previously been diagnosed with a mental health condition. If you think the person’s symptoms are placing them at possible risk of harm, you can:
- take them to the nearest accident and emergency department, if they agree
Psychotic Disorders & Schizophrenia Causes
While the exact cause of psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, is unknown, researchers believe several a combination of physical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors play a role.
Like other mental health conditions, psychotic disorders are often genetic. There is evidence linking schizophrenia and genetic, however, no single gene is thought to be responsible. People with family members who have these psychotic disorders are at an increased risk.
Overactivity in brain chemicals that regulate normal functioning can also cause psychotic disorders. Additionally, studies suggest that people with psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, have subtle differences in brain structures.
Some experts believe childhood schizophrenia could be linked to factors affecting mothers during pregnancy including drug or alcohol use, extreme stress, poor nutrition and exposure to some hormonal or chemical agents
Schizophrenia is more common in adults, but it also affects children and adolescents. When it occurs before the age of 18, its considered early-onset schizophrenia. Like adults, children with schizophrenia often inherit the condition. If a parent has the illness, a child has about a 10% to 15% chance of developing it. If more than one family member has the disorder, the risk is even higher.
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Diagnosis And Differential Diagnosis
Diagnosis is made clinically on the basis of history and by examination of the mental state there are no diagnostic tests or biomarkers. Schizophrenia usually presents with psychosis and the main differential diagnoses, in DSM510, are affective psychoses , other, closely related, non-affective psychoses , substance induced psychotic disorders and psychotic disorders due to a general medical condition. Differential diagnosis takes into account the duration of illness, the nature and pattern of associated substance abuse, the co-occurrence of depression or mania and the presence of somatic illness.
Articles On Schizophrenia Overview
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe mental disorder that affects the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. Though schizophrenia isnât as common as other major mental illnesses, it can be the most chronic and disabling.
People with schizophrenia often have problems doing well in society, at work, at school, and in relationships. They might feel frightened and withdrawn, and could appear to have lost touch with reality. This lifelong disease canât be cured but can be controlled with proper treatment.
Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not a split or multiple personality. Schizophrenia involves a psychosis, a type of mental illness in which a person canât tell whatâs real from whatâs imagined. At times, people with psychotic disorders lose touch with reality. The world may seem like a jumble of confusing thoughts, images, and sounds. Their behavior may be very strange and even shocking. A sudden change in personality and behavior, which happens when people who have it lose touch with reality, is called a psychotic episode.
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More Education Better Understanding
These findings point to some improvement in understanding and attitudes about mental health and mental issues. But more needs to be done. Efforts like McLean Hospitals campaign and the National Alliance on Mental Healths StigmaFree pledge have done much to bring understanding to the public.
More and more individuals are choosing to be open about their own mental illness. By speaking out, they show that psychiatric conditions like depression and addiction are common and no different than medical conditions like diabetes or asthma.
At the same time, many efforts to promote good mental health have been introduced.
Just as individuals are encouraged to exercise, improve their eating habits, and see a doctor when they are sick or injured, these programs teach mindfulness, stress reduction techniques, and gratitude. Many emphasize that good physical health is essential to good mental health. Some of these efforts are available online or through apps.
Though many are still confusedor unawareof the differences between mental health and mental illness, times are changing. Despite the terms becoming more mainstream, there is still much to be done to help others understand that each impact everyone differently.
We are all human, said Palmer. We are all vulnerable to illness. Its important to see the strengths and dignity in all people regardless of their health status and try our best to help alleviate suffering when we can.
Who Does It Affect
Schizophrenia typically starts at different ages, depending on sex. It usually starts between ages 15 and 25 for men and between 25 and 35 for women. It also tends to affect men and women in equal numbers.
Schizophrenia in children, especially before age 18, is possible but rare. However, these cases are usually very severe. Earlier onset tends to lead to a more severe, harder-to-treat condition.
About 20% of new schizophrenia cases occur in people over age 45. These cases tend to happen more in women. Delusion symptoms are stronger in these cases, with less-severe negative symptoms and effects on the ability to think and focus.
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What Is Mental Health
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.1 Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.
Signs & Symptoms Of Psychotic Disorders
People with psychotic disorders can experience hallucinations they may see, hear, feel, taste or smell things that arent there. They can also experience delusions, which are unshakable beliefs in false or inaccurate ideas that conflict with reality. These experiences are very real to people with these disorders.
Signs of Schizophrenia
Symptoms of schizophrenia are considered either positive or negative and most people with the illness experience both. Negative symptoms are normal feelings and abilities that schizophrenia takes away, such as feeling motivated or being interested in activities. Positive symptoms are easier to treat than negative ones, which tend to remain longer.
People with schizophrenia have at least two of these symptoms for six months or more. One of the two symptoms must include hallucinations, delusions or confused speech. Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- Hallucinations seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting or smelling things that arent there
- Delusions false ideas that are easily proved wrong, like believing you can fly or thinking youre a different person
- Confused speech using words and sentences that don’t make sense
- Strange or repetitive behavior acting in odd ways, like walking in circles or sitting motionless for hours
- Withdrawal and lifelessness displaying no emotion, motivation or interest in regular activities
Diagnosis & Treatment for Schizophrenia
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