Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic mental illness that affects a person’s thoughts, actions, and emotions. People with schizophrenia may exhibit symptoms or behave in ways that are upsetting to them as well as others around them, particularly close friends and family.
Learning how to help someone with schizophrenia can be challenging. But, even though at first it might seem overwhelming, there are things you can do to help your loved one. It takes patience and empathy to be a caregiver or support person for someone with schizophrenia.
Here are some tips on how to help someone with schizophrenia.
Educate Yourself About Schizophrenia
Understanding how to help someone with schizophrenia involves learning about this frequently misunderstood mental health issue.
People with schizophrenia become disoriented from reality. As a result, they frequently withdraw from everyday life and may exhibit erratic thoughts or behaviors. Schizophrenia is characterized by delusional thinking, psychosis, and hallucinations. Patients may also become disinterested in routine activities.
Since there is no recognized treatment for schizophrenia, community support and treatment are essential. Therefore, understanding the symptoms of Schizophrenia will help you better understand your loved one’s behavior, making it less frightening or perplexing for you.
Acknowledge and validate their experience
You might not know how to react when a loved one talks about their delusions or hallucinations. But even if you don’t entirely understand their perspective, you may acknowledge their perplexity, frustration, and anxiety.
Remember that the things people with schizophrenia perceive and hear are entirely realistic for them before you reject these symptoms as lies. If you had a strong belief that everyone else denied, think about how you would feel and want others to support you.
Give them time to communicate themselves, nonetheless, in their unique way. Don’t attempt to complete their sentences or fill in any blanks as they speak. Even though it might take more time, making an effort is how to help someone with schizophrenia respectfully.
Encourage treatment and self-help
Advocate adherence to a treatment plan if you want to know how to help someone with schizophrenia effectively. Schizophrenia is a chronic illness that has no known treatment. Therefore, successful diagnosis and symptom control depend on certain diagnostic criteria and regular assistance from mental health providers.
Almost always, medication is required to treat schizophrenia, especially when it is combined with therapy. This course of treatment may help to lessen the severity and frequency of symptoms of schizophrenia. Commonly prescribed drugs include antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers.
While medicine is crucial in treating schizophrenia, other factors also play a role in recovery. For example, the symptoms, emotions, and self-esteem of a schizophrenic can be significantly impacted by self-help approaches like adopting a nutritious diet, managing stress and paranoid behavior, exercising, and accessing social support. A person with schizophrenia will feel less powerless and hopeless the more they take care of themselves, and the more likely it is their doctor will be able to lessen their prescription.
Stay in touch
Schizophrenics and those with other mental illnesses may isolate themselves, yet research indicates that social support networks are essential for mental health.
So how to help someone with schizophrenia? Keep in touch with patients, even if it’s simply to say “hello” or share something amusing or educational. Emails, text messages, and video chats are excellent ways to communicate outside face-to-face interactions. Even if people with schizophrenia persistently reject invites or agree to something only to not carry it out, keep including or offering to involve them in plans.
Help in making a crisis plan
Having a crisis plan can make it easier for people with mental health issues to deal with unforeseen events.
If someone has a crisis plan, ask if they would be willing to discuss it with you or give you a copy. Your smartphone, wallet, bedside table, or glove compartment are all convenient places to store crisis plans.
An effective crisis plan for how to help someone with schizophrenia must include the following:
- contact information of friends and family members who can provide assistance
- contact information of their psychiatrist, therapist, and other medical personnel
- phone number of the closest emergency or mental healthcare facility
- a list of current prescription drugs and triggers for diagnoses
- Strategies that have worked in the past for people with a history of psychosis, self-injury, drug use, or suicide attempts for people with mental health issues to deal with unforeseen events.
- If someone has a crisis plan, ask if they would be willing to discuss it with you or give you a copy. Your smartphone, wallet, bedside table, or glove compartment are all convenient places to store crisis plans.
Things to avoid
Supporting a person with schizophrenia can be done in a lot of ways, but there are some things you should avoid. Don’t overburden them with excessive stimulation or information. Instead, try to keep things clear and straightforward because schizophrenia can make it difficult for a person to integrate and interpret sensory input.
Refrain from disputing with or attempting to persuade them that their hallucinations or delusions are unreal. It can be upsetting and might simply make them feel worse. Moreover, be careful not to judge or disregard their experiences. It’s crucial to strive to be sympathetic and to understand how to help someone with schizophrenia, even if you disagree with or don’t comprehend their perspective.
How to persuade someone with schizophrenia to get help even if they don’t want to?
Encourage them that numerous resources are available for assistance and that a large community exists to support them. You can also give them hope by telling them that people who frequently seek and adhere to treatment alternatives have healthy, comfortable lives.
If a person with schizophrenia is close to relapse, are there any early indicators or strategies to predict this?
Sleep issues, elevated anxiety, agitation, a rise in suspicion or anger, and an aggravation of any of the person’s typical symptoms are all warning indicators. Here, continuity of clinical treatment is crucial for early detection and prompt intervention.
Is schizophrenia contagious?
No, schizophrenia is not contagious. It is a severe mental illness thought to be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and brain chemistry factors.
It can be challenging to support a loved one with schizophrenia, especially if you share a home or are very close with them. You must familiarize yourself with methods on how to help someone with schizophrenia, including learning about the illness, locating helpful resources, and interacting with them in a caring and compassionate way. You can be a better caregiving partner by prioritizing self-care and establishing limits. Working with a mental health expert can help them develop the best treatment strategy and make you feel more balanced.