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How can I help someone with schizophrenia?

If someone you know has schizophrenia, it is not always easy to know how to help. But there are many different things that you can do. Remember it can be distressing looking after someone suffering from a mental disorder, so keep in mind the following:

  • Their schizophrenia is not your fault
  • Their schizophrenia is not their fault
  • You cannot cure their illness
  • Their beliefs or hallucinations seem very real to them
  • The person is not the disorder
  • Even the best can make mistakes

In this section

1. Find out more about schizophrenia

Learning about schizophrenia is important in order to understand the phases, the symptoms and what a person may be going through. There is a lot of wrong information around schizophrenia so take time to find out what is myth and what is truth.

2. Know the signs that they are relapsing

Everyone with schizophrenia has different symptoms and courses of disease. By recognising the signs that someone with schizophrenia may be becoming unwell, you can help them to manage their illness. Look out for:2

Loss of appetite

Anxiety or stress

Disturbed sleep

A feeling of suspicion or fear

Worrying about people’s motives

Hearing quiet voices now and again

Difficulty concentrating

If you recognise these signs, make sure that they have access to their medication and consider seeking extra support.

3. Seek all the specialised help you can

There are a lot of support and services out there for people living with schizophrenia. The more professional advice you have access to, the easier it can be in the tougher periods.

4. Make sure they are taking their medication

It is important for people with schizophrenia to take their medication as prescribed. This can help to prevent relapse.2 When they are feeling well, try to set up a routine to follow. Work together to overcome any forgetfulness that they may experience.

5. Making sure their loved one is safe

Someone with schizophrenia may find it difficult to think clearly and take care of themselves or others.1 If they have a dependant, you may be able to help out by assisting with everyday tasks like housework or shopping. You could also just check in to make sure they are ok.

6. Help them find meaningful occupations and learn new skills

It is important to focus on the positives, the things they enjoy or are good at. Try setting small realistic goals and helping to find jobs or skills that are manageable and meaningful. Remember that difficulty concentrating is a symptom of schizophrenia and so it is important to be patient.1

7. Look after yourself

It is never easy watching someone you know experience schizophrenia. Make sure that you pay attention to your own needs and take time for yourself.

Find someone to talk to about your feelings

Stay in touch with friends and family members

Don’t take hurtful behaviour and words personally

In the UK, you can find useful resources to take care of your wellbeing and the people around you with organisations such as Mind UK and Rethink Mental Illness.
If you’re based elsewhere, look for institutional resources and mental health charities that operate in your area.

References

  1. NIMH, Schizophrenia, 2016. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml [Accessed Jul 2019]
  2. NHS, Living with schizophrenia, 2016. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/schizophrenia/living-with/ [Accessed Jul 2019]
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dc-hide-contentQuick overview of schizophrenia/dc-hide-contentQuick overview of schizophrenia

dc-hide-contentSchizophrenia can be defined as a severe mental disorder which affects behaviours, thoughts and emotions. You may only notice the first symptoms around teenage /dc-hide-contentSchizophrenia can be defined as a severe mental disorder which affects behaviours, thoughts and emotions. You may only notice the first symptoms around teenage

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dc-hide-contentHow is schizophrenia diagnosed?/dc-hide-contentHow is schizophrenia diagnosed?

dc-hide-contentDiagnosis is not possible before the first acute psychotic symptoms according to up-to date guidelines. However detecting prodromal signs can be crucial in term/dc-hide-contentDiagnosis is not possible before the first acute psychotic symptoms according to up-to date guidelines. However detecting prodromal signs can be crucial in term

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