Schizophrenia affects everyone around the person who has the illness. It can be hard to watch a family member or friend develop symptoms and perhaps act in very different ways.
You may feel helpless, but you play an important role in the life and treatment of a loved one who has schizophrenia.
What you can do
- Learn about schizophrenia. Understand what happens in schizophrenia and how you and your loved one can cope with it. This may make it easier for you and your loved one to work together on treatment.
- Work together as a familyWork together as a family. You and your family may benefit from therapy even if your loved one doesn't want to participate.
- Help during hallucinationsHelp during hallucinations and paranoiaparanoia. Call for help if you think the situation could become dangerous.
- Deal with symptomsDeal with symptoms.
- Encourage the person to take medicinesEncourage the person to take medicines.
- Be aware of your own and other people's negative attitudesBe aware of your own and other people's negative attitudes toward the illness and your loved one.
You can also help the person with good health habits, like getting enough sleep and avoiding alcohol and drugs.
Sometimes people who have schizophrenia are too sick to seek treatment on their own. If the symptoms are severe, you may have to force the person to get treatment. Talk with your health care providers and/or local law enforcement officials about the laws and procedures in your area for getting treatment in this situation. If you have this information before you need it, it will reduce your fears and concerns and may make it easier for you.
Some people who have schizophrenia may become aggressive or violent at times. Call
Supporting or caring for someone who has schizophrenia isn't easy. Finding your own support can help you deal with the illness and the sense of loss you may feel.
- Take care of yourselfTake care of yourself. Do things you enjoy, such as seeing family or going to movies.
- Don't feel that you need to do everything possible to help a loved one who has schizophrenia. Remember that you need to respect the wishes and choices of your loved one, unless those wishes and choices are dangerous. Everyone learns from a wrong choice or mistake. Recovery may be faster if your loved one believes that family members trust him or her with decision making.
- Don't do it alone. Ask others to help you, or join a support group. The more support you have, the more help you can give.
- Get help from a local organization. Your city or state may have programs to help you. Ask at your local or state health department. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides contact information for support organizations nationwide. For more information, go to www.nami.org.
For more information, see the topic Caregiver Tips.