Six Tips for Families Living With Schizophrenia
When someone is diagnosed with schizophrenia, the whole family can be deeply affected and experience a range of emotions. Here are some ways to cope:
If a family member or close friend is diagnosed with schizophrenia and the symptoms are serious it can become easy to fall into feelings of fear and saddness. Ultimately a diagnosis of schizophrenia could refer to a single psychotic episode that could be follwed by a full or near-full recovery. While a more chronic outlook may be more difficult to accommodate, don't assume the worst. There are resources and treatment options available. Become your own expert and do your best to stay positive.
Don't forget about yourself
It’s important to not give up your own dreams, goals, hobbies, and friends due to a loved one’s diagnosis. You may want to jump right into the caregiver role, but it's often wiser to ease into changes and not let go of your own aspirations. Allow time for exercise, meditation, and other desirable forms of stress relief and relaxation.
Think of the family as a team
A diagnosis doesn’t need to fall on your shoulders alone. Focus on working cooperatively with members of your family, the new health care team, teachers, and other community members. Support is there for people who seek it, but the anxiety and fear that come with a diagnosis can make it easy to withdraw into seclusion.
Keep your emotions in check
Even if you are not the head of a household, your emotions can easily affect the rest of the family’s. Try not to be overly aggressive or critical, and avoid blaming your loved one for their schizophrenic behavior. Also, try to exhibit calm and soothing behavior towards the rest of the family.
Make a plan
Developing a plan with the rest of the family about coping with a relapse will help ease problems should one occur. Good preparation includes knowing the warning signs, monitoring medication, reducing stressors, eliminating alcohol, and having a safety net in place, such as a financial plan, a work plan, and a childcare plan, if necessary.
Family therapy is a great option to help prevent relapse, build family cooperation, and help keep everyone’s emotions in check. The routine of meeting with a therapist and getting the whole family together will help ensure that everything stays under control.