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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Offering Advice And Suggestions
It can be all too tempting to advise someone on how we think they should be fixing their condition. They might not be in a good place to weigh the consequences of their own choices, so they might misunderstand or take your advice out of context.
Should your loved one press you for advice, proceed with caution. You do not wish to devalue the advice of their doctors or the support of their other loved ones. And, of course, you are not their doctor and should not be telling them which medications to take or how to proceed with counseling.
Instead, suggest that they consult with their physician, counselor, or psychiatrist about a medication or supplement that you have heard might be helpful to people with schizophrenia. Keep a neutral enough tone while talking about it, and reinforce the idea that it is truly best for them to speak with a licensed professional about treatment. If they approach you with some of their distressing personal issues, be supportive and kindly suggest that they speak with a counselor.
Action Tip: Practice Self
Self-care is powerful. When you take care of your own needs first, you can become the strongest version of yourself. Take time every day to do things for yourself.
You can practice self care by:
- Taking a mental health day
- Talking with a therapist
There are so many effective ways to learn how to help someone with schizophrenia. From educating yourself, to treating them with empathy and compassion, to helping them to find the best treatment option so they can best manage their symptoms, you can be a powerful advocate and source of strength for your loved one.
Schizophrenia is a particularly challenging condition to deal with, and it can end up taking an adverse toll on anyone whos dealing with it. Prioritize your own well-being and your loved ones, with the tips and tools weve provided here.
Its not your place to carry all the burden of schizophrenia. Its essential that you work with a mental health professional who you and your loved one trust for long-term symptom management. Talkspace is an online therapy platform that can provide you both with the help you need. At Talkspace, you can find a therapist to work with, and as a team, you can successfully overcome schizophrenia.
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Action Tip: Know How To Support Them
Consider the following ways that you can support your loved one with schizophrenia:
- Find mutual hobbies you both enjoy, like gardening, listening to music, painting, doing yoga, or going for walks
- Encourage them to work on small tasks instead of focusing on overwhelming goals
- Help them set up their bedroom to encourage more restful sleep
- Suggest they stay physically fit and offer to work out with them
- Prepare and eat healthy meals together
How To Communicate With Someone With Schizophrenia: Dos And Donts
Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder that affects a persons ability to think, feel, and behave clearly. A person with schizophrenia may struggle to break down the relationships between thoughts, emotions, and behavior, resulting in impaired perception, inappropriate behavior or feelings, withdrawal from reality, and a sense of mental fragmentation. If you think this sounds complicated, imagine how a person with this disorder feels.
People with schizophrenia rarely have an understanding of or insight into their illness, which can be extremely stressful for the individual and their loved ones. As an outsider, to you it may seem like the person has completely lost touch with reality, but this isnt true. As complex as this disorder is, its important to be mindful of your language when speaking to the individual or talking about their disorder. So what should you not say to someone with schizophrenia? Below are some examples and tips for communication you should keep in mind.
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Responding To Changes In Symptoms
People with schizophrenia have heard enough pessimism and tend to be aware of the stigma. What you can do is start learning how to respond to the fluctuations in their symptoms. As is the case with almost any mental health condition, symptoms of schizophrenia have an ebb and flow. It is up to you to start learning how to recognize them as they occur.
Psychosis plays a major role in schizophrenia. In this state, an individual might lose their sense of reality, exhibit disorganized behavior, and experience hallucinations or delusions. They might also lose interest in their usual daily activities, experience a decline in interpersonal communication, and become unable to express their emotions.
Lets talk symptoms. There are both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia to look out for. Positive symptoms, which refer to exaggerated ideas, perceptions, or actions, include disorganized thoughts and hallucinations. Hallucinations can affect every bodily sense, including smell and taste, although auditory hallucinations are most common. When you notice these happening, try suggesting other activities to your loved one so as to gently divert their attention to something more constructive and realistic.
Delusions are centered upon a fixation with false beliefs and are hard to dissuade despite concrete evidence to the contrary. Instead of rejecting these beliefs outright, try asking questions and showing that you at least acknowledge their beliefs.
How To Communicate With Someone With Schizophrenia
While hallucinations and delusions are commonly associated with schizophrenia, this neurological disorder also impacts communication skills.
Some symptoms include:
- troubles relaying thoughts
- thinking difficulties
Schizophrenia is also known to cause a lack of motivation. Your loved one might not seem like theyre interested in or enjoy the activities they normally do. Small, everyday tasks may also be challenging to complete.
Effective communication with someone with schizophrenia relies heavily on education, compassion, and empathy.
Rather than trying to fix this mental health condition, its important to meet your loved one where they are today and assure them youre there for them no matter what challenges they might face.
Here are some ways you can get started:
- Acknowledge what your loved one may be feeling.
- Actively listen to what they express theyre feeling, sensing, or hearing, regardless of whether it makes sense to you.
- Ask them what you can do to help them right now encouragement can help increase motivation.
- Let your loved one know youre there for them whenever theyre ready to talk with you.
- Have patience, and allow extra time for your loved one to gather their thoughts if they wish to speak with you.
Knowing what to say during symptom changes can foster better communication. But its also important to know what not to say to someone with schizophrenia.
For example, you should never:
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Help Them Avoid Alcohol And Illicit Drugs
When people with schizophrenia experience symptoms, such as hearing voices, some 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.The best approach may be to help your loved one consider the negative impact of substance use on their symptoms and quality of life, with the goal of facilitating a shift toward healthier behaviors, suggests Moe.
When possible, its helpful to work with your loved one to make a plan for coping with negative symptoms when theyre feeling well and not experiencing a crisis, adds Moe. Therapy can also be helpful for learning new coping skills and strategies, and empowering people with schizophrenia become less reliant on substance use to cope, Moe says.
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.
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What Your Loved One Is Saying:
There is a car parked on my street that is monitoring me. Every time I leave my house a car drives by marking down the times I left. They follow me around wherever I drive.
I bought extra locks for my house because they came in the middle of the night and drugged me. All my doors are barricaded to keep them out. The police say they wont do anything to help me.
I stay up at night watching and waiting and set up traps in the yard to catch them. I bought a hearing amplification device so I can catch them before they get to my house.
Focus On Their Feelings
Focus on the level of distress they are feeling and offer comfort. Its possible to recognise their alarm and acknowledge their feelings without agreeing with the reason they feel that way.
deal with the agitation by focusing on the feelings giving general comforting phrases such as All is well, there is nothing to worry about, you are safe. Providing distraction activities can also help to break the cycle of paranoia.
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Be Prepared To Handle A Crisis
If youre looking for even more answers to the question: how can you help someone with schizophrenia, dont overlook the power of being prepared to handle emergencies.
Together, when things are calm, you can ask your loved one what they want to do during a crisis. Ask them if they can identify what itll take to help them feel better. Give them the option to talk to you and describe what they want you to do.
You have to set limits. If your loved one ever talks about self-harm or any violent act, take the situation seriously. Nobody ever wants to make that 911 call, but sometimes when schizophrenia is involved, it might come to this. Be prepared.
Keep Track Of Details
Go to all doctor appointments with your loved one. It will make it easier for you to help them with their treatment plan. Ask their doctor as many questions as you need, and keep details. Remember: The doctor is there to help both of you.
Also, take notes to every appointment. Some things to include are:
- Your loved oneâs recent symptoms
- Any other medical conditions they may have
- New sources of stress
- Medications, vitamins, herbs, or any other supplements that they have taken, as well as the dosage
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Try To Limit Power Struggles
Schizophrenia usually sets in during late adolescence, a time when young people tend to want 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 phrases like, “You need to go out and get a job,” Baker 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, Baker adds.
Take Care Of Yourself
It can be draining to look after someone with schizophrenia. You need to make nurturing yourself a top priority every day. Itâs common for caregivers to feel sad, angry, alone, or afraid of what others will think.
Reach out to friends and family, and tell them what you need. They can:
- Listen to you without judging you
- Find information and doctors
- Offer financial assistance
- Do your housework and babysit your kids
Most of all, eat well, get enough sleep, exercise, and take part in fun activities. You canât be âon callâ 24 hours a day. So schedule guilt-free vacations and give yourself a complete break from time to time.
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Action Tip: Choose Your Words Carefully
There are several things not to do when responding to or interacting with someone who has schizophrenia, including:
- Dont dismiss them or be unsupportive
- Dont assume you understand their needs
- Dont interrupt them
- Dont threaten them or make them feel like youre the enemy
- Dont argue with or challenge them
- Dont blame them
Action Tip: Support Their Treatment Plan Without Criticism
You want to encourage your loved one to participate in therapy and adhere to medication protocols. However, you dont want to make them feel helpless or criticized.
- Instead of saying, Are you still going to your therapy sessions?
- Consider saying, Can I give you a ride to therapy today?
- Instead of saying, Have you taken your meds today?
- Consider saying, Should we set a medication reminder on your phone?
When a clear and thoughtful diagnosis has been made, treatment therapy and medication should be consistent and properly managed in order to keep any functional impairment low. Routine activities of daily living can also help impart some level of control in an individuals and familys life.
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What Causes Paranoid Personality Disorder
While the exact cause of PPD is not yet found, it is believed to be triggered by a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
Paranoid personality disorder is often seen in individuals who have close family members with a history of schizophrenia and other delusional disorders .
Emotional or physical trauma during early childhood is another contributing factor to the development of PPD.
If you think that you are exhibiting symptoms of paranoid personality disorder, it is best to see a doctor.
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Help For Family & Friends
The family and friends of someone with schizophrenia need care and support too its okay to set boundaries for the care you can give, and to prioritise your own physical and mental health.
There are many other people out there who share your experience, and many services designed to help carers of people with mental health issues. Here are a few places to find support:
SANE factsheets provide brief, introductory information about mental health. For more in-depth information, read SANEs Schizophrenia guide.
This SANE factsheet is currently being reviewed by industry professionals and people with lived experience
Schizophrenia impacts a persons thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and behaviour. It can cause periods where people lose touch with reality. Other changes such as reduced motivation, flattened emotional expression, and problems processing information can also occur.
With treatment and support people can and do live fulfilling lives.
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Notice What’s Going Well
It can be hard seeing someone close to you experience schizophrenia. They might find it hard to think clearly, have problems understanding what is real, stop taking care of themselves or avoid seeing people.
Try to notice positive things too. It can help to set small, realistic goals to aim for rather than focusing on what they can’t do. It’s also important to remember that losing interest and motivation are part of having schizophrenia and not something the person is choosing to do.
Tip : Take Care Of Yourself
Taking care of yourself isnt selfish. In fact, its just as important for your loved one with schizophrenia that you look after your own health needs.
Schizophrenia can place an incredible amount of stress on the family. It can take over your life and burn you out. And if youre stressed, youll make the person with schizophrenia stressed and trigger or exacerbate their symptoms.
Since adopting healthy lifestyle habits is also important for your loved one in managing schizophrenia symptoms, by taking care of your own health you can act as a role model. You may even be able to pursue some of these steps together, helping to motivate and encourage each other.
Connect with others. Social interaction with someone who cares about you is the most effective way to relieve stress. Its important for both you and the person with schizophrenia to have other people you can connect with face-to-facesomeone you can talk to for an uninterrupted period of time, someone who will listen without judging or continually becoming distracted. That person may be a friend, family member, clergy member, or professional therapist.
Get regular exercise. Physical activity reduces stress and releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Whether you exercise alone, with a friend, or with your loved one with schizophrenia, aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days, or if its easier, three 10-minute sessions.
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