It can be daunting when a loved one is diagnosed with Schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder. It’s normal to experience feelings of anxiety, stress, and even hopelessness during the process of trying to learn everything you can about the disorder and how to best care for someone living with Schizophrenia. As a caregiver, not only do you serve on the frontlines as one of the most essential people in your loved one’s support system, but also as their liaison for medical care and treatment.
It is easy to become overwhelmed while trying to balance these various roles and it is okay to feel frustrated and need help.
What Is Schizophrenia and Psychosis and How Are They Different?
Psychosis is often a symptom of schizophrenia, however, someone can experience psychosis without having Schizophrenia. Psychosis can accompany a variety of other mental health conditions including Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, dementia, and Borderline Personality Disorder. In short, psychosis is considered a symptom, while Schizophrenia is a specific illness. An individual’s symptoms of psychosis are typically similar regardless of whether they have a diagnosis of Schizophrenia.
Characterized by hallucinations, delusions, irrational or erratic behaviors, and cognitive issues including the inability to think clearly or remember details, psychotic episodes can be incredibly debilitating. Symptoms of schizophrenia often include hallucinations and delusions, as well as chronic symptoms including disorganized speech, disorganized or catatonic behavior, and diminished emotional expression.
How to Care for Someone with Schizophrenia or Psychosis
A diagnosis of Schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder does not mean one cannot live a well-balanced meaningful life. It may be the biggest challenge a family will ever face, however with knowledge, commitment, patience, and love, you can have a tremendously positive influence on your loved one and help them manage their illness effectively.
During a crisis, full or partial hospitalization may be temporarily necessary in some cases. However, most people with schizophrenia receive treatment on an outpatient basis the majority of the time, meaning they rely on the support of family and loved ones as much as trained professionals. This is why mobile psychiatric outpatient rehabilitation providers—like our highly qualified team at LAT—are such a vital resource in teaching people how to manage their illness. By bringing care to clients where they are, both in-home and in the community, mobile clinical teams are an essential component of treatment to help individuals and families manage conditions like Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
Other ways family members can help a loved member manage their illness include making sure they attend medical appointments on time, take their medication as directed, and continue regular self-care. A supportive healing environment where your loved one can feel safe is essential for long-term recovery.
Steps You Can Take to Support Recovery
Don’t overreact when bad things happen.
As caregivers and family members, it’s important that your loved one knows they can rely on your empathy and understanding even when they’re experiencing difficult times. Try to remain calm and centered when a loved one displays charged emotions during an episode, and remember the negative behaviors are not specifically directed at you. By maintaining a stable and supportive environment, you give your loved one space to heal.
Keep schedules consistent.
Having a regular and predictable routine helps people with Schizophrenia or psychosis feel safe and more in control of their environment. Planning meals, bedtime, errands and everyday activities helps avoid disruptions and surprises that can oftentimes lead to increased symptoms.
Having straightforward and precise communication helps avoid potential confusion and frustration. Schizophrenia and psychosis affect a person’s concentration and memory, so keeping it simple, especially during difficult times, helps reduce stress.
Honor your loved one’s need for peace.
Having a tranquil and conflict-free environment is essential to managing symptoms. Large gatherings, loud music, arguments, or a chaotic home life can trigger symptoms and make it much more difficult for your loved one to make progress towards recovery.
Life Adjustment Team
If you need assistance taking care of your loved one with Schizophrenia, contact Life Adjustment Team today. We are here to help you and your loved one manage their diagnosis and become the best version of themselves possible.