Living With a Schizophrenic? — Here’s How You Can Help!
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which there is a disconnection from reality. Schizophrenics experience distorted emotions and perceptions along with delusions and hallucinations.
How to Help Your Loved Ones Suffering From Schizophrenia
Mental diseases are very hard for the people suffering from them. But they are not the only ones who suffer. It takes a toll on their loved ones too because they are in a fix about how to help the suffering souls. Many Advanced Therapies and medications are available to control and manage the symptoms of schizophrenia but here is how you can play a positive role in their life.
Increase Your Knowledge:
Understanding the symptoms of schizophrenia will help you recognize them when they appear in your loved one and this understanding will also help in reducing your fear of the unknown. The key symptoms are
- Delusions: Your loved ones might start believing in things that are not there. They might be convinced that their food is poisoned, they have otherworldly powers or they are being controlled by someone else.
- Hallucinations: Your loved ones will see things which are not there. They will hear music or pat a dog that is not there.
- Cognitive Symptoms: They have trouble concentrating. They might say things and phrases that do not make any sense to you.
Listen and Empathize:
When your loved one talks to you about their delusions or hallucinations, listen to them empathetically and validate their emotions. Do not try to convince them that what they are seeing or feeling is untrue in any way. It is normal to not know what to say or how to react in these situations but words like “it must be so frightening to see a figure like that in your room, what can I do to make you feel better” go a long way.
Social withdrawal and isolation are symptoms of schizophrenia. Your loved one might start staying alone and stop mingling. They might lose interest in their favourite sports and hobbies and show general listlessness and desire to be left alone. In these circumstances, instead of leaving them to fend for themselves, try to be there and involve them. This emotional support is very crucial. Check on them regularly, involve them in your life and suggest activities that you want to do with them.
Devise a Crisis Plan With Them:
Schizophrenia symptoms come and go throughout one’s life. Creating a plan to manage the symptoms can help a lot. The plan might include stress management techniques, phone numbers of emergency contacts, their prefered way of getting first aid (a therapist appointment or emergency room), a list of medications, and who will look after their children or pets and plants in case of worsening symptoms, etc. Deciding these things will help a lot in case of emergency.
Dealing with schizophrenia is a continuous and tiring journey. A point comes where the medications and therapist appointments start seeming useless. During these bouts of hopelessness about the impossibility of their situation, you should step up for them and encourage them to keep taking their medications and keep going to therapist’s appointments.