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Caring for a loved one with schizophrenia

Posted on 05-09-2016 Posted in Coping, Family, Recovery - 0 Comments

Caring for a loved one with schizophrenia

“I live permanently in two worlds. The everyday life in which I have to focus on essential matters like working to get food and the world of symbols and what I like to call echoes. If I don’t take medication the symbolism surrounding me gets too obsessive, and I lose grip on the everyday. The main effects are rather huge waves of glorious euphoria or very long moments of deep anxiety. And each of them for very specific reasons relative to the Ideas. Medication just gives me the guts to push the Ideas to the side and stay focused on everyday reality.”

The above is how a person with schizophrenia describes his life. This individual is lucid; not all people with the disorder are so lucky. This article examines how family members care for a loved one with schizophrenia and how they must set personal boundaries or be consumed by quiet desperation.

Six tips for family members and friends

PsychCentral publishes a schizophrenia education guide. They list the following six tips for family and friends on caring for and living with a loved one with schizophrenia.

  1. 1. Take responsible steps. People with schizophrenia do not fare well in examinations or other settings requiring a degree of competency and cooperation. A family member or friend closest to the patient must assume the mantel of responsibility as advocate and liaison for the individual.
  2. 2. Remain vigilant about compliance. People with the disorder often stop their meds once they leave the hospital or feel better. It is imperative the patient remain on medication and continues with aftercare treatment.
  3. 3. Encouragement and support. The individual with schizophrenia may not accept encouragement or support, but these are integral to recovery, and it must extend beyond the verbal. Participating in the person’s recovery translates to the greatest level of support.
  4. 4. Don’t play along. Hallucinations may appear real to the individual, but family and friends must not engage in their existence. Do not challenge or discount the existence of hallucinations. Be honest with the individual and try to steer the conversation away from the subject.
  5. 5. Maintain a record. Keep track of the symptoms, the medications and dosage and what effect treatment has on the individual. Family members spend the most time with the individual. Staying vigilant about changes in mood and behavior may prevent a relapse into psychosis.
  6. 6. Assist in goal setting. Attainable, realistic goals provides the individual with purpose and structure. Individuals with schizophrenia respond to positive feedback just like everyone else.

Caretakers take care advises caretakers to put on their own oxygen mask first. It is an apt metaphor. A caretaker who is emotionally and physically spent benefits no one. The site has the following recommendations:

  1. 1. Join a support group. Spending time with others in the same situation reduces isolation and fear.
  2. 2. Make time for yourself. Take a break, take a book, take a bath, take a meal. Just take time to care of yourself.
  3. 3. Stay healthy. Sleep, eat, exercise and relax. Physical exhaustion leads straight to mental burnout.
  4. 4. Maintain social contact with the outside world. Enjoy your life without feeling guilty for enjoying it. Caretaking is also about taking care of yourself.

Sovereign Health Group’s Fort Myers and Pompano Beach treatment facilities offer comprehensive treatment for individuals with schizophrenia. We provide education and support to families. Our behavioral health programs treat the underlying causes that fuel mental health or substance abuse issues. We encourage family and friends to participate in the individual’s recovery. Call for more information.

About the author:

Darren Fraser is a content writer for Sovereign Health Group. He worked two and half years as reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec. For more information about this media, contact the author at

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