Schizophrenia changes how a person and family work. The person will need a support system to help them cope with daily life. Family, friends, care team members, clergy, and others can help the person manage the changes needed. It is important for people who are giving support to know what resources are available. To better help a person with schizophrenia make changes:
Recognize the Need for Help
People with schizophrenia may resist treatment because they may not think they need help. Psychosis may keep them from knowing what is real and what is not. Is is important to seek help as soon as the person needs it. Doing so can create ethical problems for the person and their family. Learn about the laws where you live concerning involuntary commitment. This may be needed if the person is a danger to themselves or others. Find out what to do in an emergency before it happens. As a support person, you may be aware of a person's odd behavior. Be sure to give all the information you know when you are asked. This will help the care team give the best possible care.
Stick to the Care Plan
A care plan involves many methods such as medicine, therapy, or other help. A person with schizophrenia needs to keep up with treatment after care for a first psychotic episode. Stopping medicine or not taking it as needed causes symptoms to come back. Help the person understand their care plan so they can keep up with it. The support system around the person can also help. Without treatment, some people become psychotic and cannot care for their basic needs such as food, clothing, or shelter. This can lead to them being homeless or in jail where they rarely get the care they need.
Give Support and Encouragement
It is hard and may be frustrating to care for someone with schizophrenia. To them, their hallucinations or delusions are real. It is okay to disagree or talk about why you see things differently. This can help them understand that there is more than one way to see things. You do not have to go along with what they think.
Family, friends, and peer groups can give support and encourage the person with schizophrenia to regain their abilities. Set goals that are realistic for that person to achieve. Stress from failure can make symptoms worse. Focus on what can be done rather than what cannot be done.
It may also be useful for those who best know the person with schizophrenia to keep a record of:
- What types of symptoms have appeared and when
- What medicines (and doses) are being used
- Which treatment works and which do not
- Any side effects from medicine
Keep track of changes so you can see early signs of decline. Early changes may only need a change of medicine or other care. This can prevent a full-blown relapse.
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Schizophrenia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115234/Schizophrenia. Updated November 29, 2018. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Schizophrenia. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/schizophrenia. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Schizophrenia. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml. Updated February 2016. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD Last Updated: 8/14/2019