When Should I See My Doctor
Some people with schizophrenia do not realise they have a problem or avoid health professionals if they have paranoid thoughts. Its important to get professional help to manage schizophrenia. If you or someone you know seems to be experiencing signs of schizophrenia, see your doctor as soon as possible.
It can be hard to recognise signs of schizophrenia at first, but over time the changes in someones thinking and behaviour may get worse.
See a doctor if you or someone you know:
- gets very preoccupied with something
- starts talking or writing very fast, or is talking much less than normal
- seems muddled, irrational or is hard to understand
- withdraws from normal activities
- is hyperactive or starts behaving recklessly
- laughs or cries inappropriately, or cannot laugh or cry or express happiness
- doesnt look after their personal hygiene
- develops depression or anxiety
Although the majority of people with schizophrenia are not violent, severe symptoms can cause some people to have thoughts of suicide or harming others. If you think someone may be at risk of suicide or violence, call triple zero .
Mental Health Helplines And Online Support
Talking things through with someone who understands your situation can help. There are a range of mental health helplines and online support that can help you with issues like:
- and more.
If you need immediate help, there are mental health helplines and websites that offer professional counselling crisis support and counselling 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Helplines are a great resource if you are struggling with mental health issues. Sometimes, just by calling and talking things through, your situation can become easier to manage.
Find someone to talk to through one of the following helplines:
- Lifeline call for this Australia-wide crisis support and suicide prevention service.
- Suicide Call Back Service call for this free service for people having suicidal thoughts or for family or friends affected by suicide.
- SuicideLine call for free and anonymous support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week across Victoria.
- Kids Help Line call for free counselling for young people between the ages of five and 25.
- call for this free telephone support service for men with family and relationship issues.
- beyondblue call for support for issues relating to anxiety and depression help.
- Poisons Information call if you have overdosed, been poisoned or made a mistake with your medications.
Who Does It Affect
Schizophrenia affects about 1% of Canadiansthat’s about 40,000 people in British Columbia. While scientists are still working hard to figure out what causes schizophrenia, we do know that it affects:
Young people: Schizophrenia usually first shows up between the ages of 18 and 25 in men and between 25 and 35 in women.
Men and women: Schizophrenia affects men and women equally as often. Men usually start to experience symptoms at an earlier age than women.
Families: Schizophrenia seems to run in families. If a close family member experiences schizophrenia, you may experience an increased risk of schizophrenia. However, it’s important to remember that there is much more to schizophrenia than your genesgenes are one of several risk factors.
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Tip : Monitor Medication
Once in treatment, careful monitoring can ensure that your loved one stays on track and gets the most out of medication.
Take side effects seriously. Many people with schizophrenia stop taking their medication because of side effects. Bring any distressing side effects to the attention of the doctor, who may be able to reduce the dose, switch to another antipsychotic, or add medication to counter the side effect.
Encourage your loved one to take medication regularly. Even with side effects under control, some people with schizophrenia refuse medication or have trouble remembering their daily dose. Medication reminder apps, weekly pillboxes, and calendars can help. Some medications are available as long-lasting weekly or monthly injections instead of daily pills.
Be careful to avoid drug interactions. Help your loved one avoid any dangerous drug interactions by giving the doctor a complete list of the drugs and supplements theyre taking. Mixing alcohol or illegal drugs with schizophrenia medication is harmful, so talk to the doctor if your relative has a substance abuse problem.
Track your family members progress. A mood-tracking app, journal, or diary is a good way to track changes in your family members behavior, outlook, and other symptoms in response to medication.
What Are Schizophrenia Support Groups
Whether youve been diagnosed with schizophrenia or youre supporting someone living with the condition, schizophrenia support groups might be a useful resource.
Schizophrenia support groups are a great place to build social support, obtain resources and communicate with individuals with similar experiences. Support groups help people, but also family members and caregivers by answering questions and allowing appropriate expectations, says Dr. Edward Singh, a psychiatrist with Orlando Health.
Sitting and talking to those who are dealing with the same things youre experiencing can help tremendously, says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist and Columbia University faculty member. Support group members can give each other tips, learn coping mechanisms from each other, share resources, and tell their stories in a safe, accepting environment.
As for who might benefit from schizophrenia support groups, Singh explains, Everyone can benefit from a support group, depending on the acuity of their symptoms. An individual with active paranoid delusions should seek treatment first to stabilize their symptoms prior to joining a group.
A support group should run parallel to any doctor-prescribed treatment.
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Early Intervention Programs For Young People
Schizophrenia most often develops for the first time between the late teens and early twenties. Identifying young people in the early stages of a psychotic illness and providing them with specialised support and treatment can make a huge difference to their future health.
Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are also available across Australia talk to your GP about finding a service near you. You can also contact your local headspace or their online support service, eheadspace to enquire about early intervention for psychosis.
Your public hospital
The treatment available through a public community mental health team ranges from acute inpatient care, where you are admitted and stay in hospital, to outpatient treatment in the community. The type of service provided can differ a lot from state to state and hospital to hospital.
Your state or territory Department of Health can help you identify your local community mental health services, or you can use the National Health Services Directory.
Treatment in a private hospital
With private health insurance, its also possible to get treatment in a private hospital. To ensure your money is well spent, research the different types of cover available and the treatment programs offered by hospitals in your area.
Helping Someone With Schizophrenia Tip : Encourage Treatment And Self
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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Helping A Suicidal Friend Or Relative
If you see any of these warning signs:
- get professional help for the person, such as from a crisis resolution team or the duty psychiatrist at your local A& E department
- let them know they’re not alone and you care about them
- offer your support in finding other solutions to their problems
If you feel there’s an immediate danger of the person attempting to end their life , stay with them or have someone else stay with them. Remove all available means of suicide, such as sharp objects and medication.
If You Need To Talk To Someone
If youre looking for information, or just want to talk to someone, get in touch with one of these services:
- eheadspace: This online chat counselling service is available 7 days a week, 9 am 1 am AEST.
- Kids Helpline: This web-based and email counselling service is available 24/7 for young people up to 25 years.
- Lifeline: Online chat counselling service is available 7 days a week, 7 pm 12 am AEST.
Visit our urgent help page for telephone counselling services.
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.
What To Do About Schizophrenia
Although it sounds scary, schizophrenia is the most common serious mental health condition and can be successfully treated.
If you think you are affected by schizophrenia, talk to someone straight away. Choose someone you like and trust, like a teacher, relative, counsellor or friend.
You should also see your GP. They may offer to refer you to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services , an expert or a psychiatrist who can help you.
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Digital Work And Study Service
The Digital Work and Study Service has work and study specialists that can provide tailored support to young people with mental illness, aged up to 25 years, via a digital platform.
Young people can access the service through web chat, video conferencing, email and phone from anywhere in Australia to meet their work or study goals.
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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Where To Find Peer Support For People Living With Schizophrenia
The Clubhouse International peer movement addresses that problem. Their programs, which number more than 300 in 30 countries worldwide, provide services for people living with mental illness, including friendship and socialization.
Joining a support group can be extremely helpful, experts say. NAMI Connection is a free, peer-led support group for any adult who has a mental health condition. Such groups foster a sense of shared experience, hope, and connection, according to NAMI experts. Patients often learn from each other and become more empowered in dealing with the disease.
There are hundreds of community programs where people with mental health challenges can be accepted as part of a community, Duckworth says. These are peer groups. There are other people like you. For example, you can learn to cook or go to a show together.
SARDAA helps people with schizophrenia and related disorder connect to a support group or start a new one.
People say When Im with my group or with my peers, I feel like Im talking to someone who speaks my language. Im connected to them and I can share things with them that I might not be able to share with clinician or my family, Stalters says. Our groups are very autonomous because the basic principle is we want people to feel empowered and have hope. It just takes two people to have a group.
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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Practical Advice And Recommendations From Specialists
Steven Gans, MD, is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
If you know someone living with schizophrenia, youve likely already tried being as helpful and supportive as possible. But staying supportive is easier when youre aware of whats going on .
This article will offer tips to have a healthier relationship with your loved one with schizophrenia. It also discusses self-care as a caregiver, coworker, or partner.
What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia has a large variety of symptoms and can seem very different in one person from another. If its not treated, schizophrenia may lead to long-term psychosis.
The main symptoms of schizophrenia are:
- confused thinking: thoughts are jumbled and the person cant make sense of what other people are saying.
Someone with schizophrenia will have symptoms for more than 6 months. They may have unusual ideas or beliefs about themselves or the world around them, which may be frightening.
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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:
Puppet Education Presentation Program
The Puppet Education Program consists of a puppet show, followed by a short discussion about mental illness, designed to help younger children understand mental illness. Ideal for children in grades 3-5, this program challenges stigma around mental illness in children by teaching them factual information about mental illness, helping reduce fear and stigma surrounding mental illness. They also learn how they can support a friend or family member with mental illness and how to seek help.
For those interested in having a puppet show come to a school in their community, please call 1-888-888-0029.
Presented by BC Schizophrenia Society in the Northwest region, What Are Friends For? is geared toward kids in grades 4, 5 and 6. It is available in Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, and Kitimat Village. Call 1-888-888-0029 to book a free performance.
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What Can I Do To Manage Schizophrenia
People deal with their experience in different ways. You might need to try different things before finding something that works.
You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support. Hearing about the experiences of others can help you feel understood. This may help you feel less alone and boost your self-confidence.
You might be able to find a local group by searching online. Rethink Mental Illness have support groups in some areas. You can find out what is available in your area, or get help to set up your own support group if you follow this link:
Or you can call our advice service on 0808 801 0525 for more information.
Recovery colleges are part of the NHS. They offer free courses about mental health to help you manage your experiences. They can help you to take control of your life and become an expert in your own wellbeing and recovery. You can usually self-refer to a recovery college. But the college may tell your care team.
Unfortunately, recovery colleges are not available in all areas. To see if there is a recovery college in your area you can use a search engine such as Google. Or you can call our advice service on 0808 801 0525 for more information.
Peer support through the NHS
- side effects,
- recognising and coping with symptoms,
- what to do in a crisis,
- meeting other people who can support you, and recovery.