If a family has not dealt with schizophrenia before, it can be challenging when a member is diagnosed. A lot of people aren’t aware of what schizophrenia is and how it affects those who have it. It could be rather difficult, and often frustrating, for families to adjust to the new changes in their lives if a sibling or child begins to show signs of schizophrenia.
According to the article, “Helpful Hints about Schizophrenia for Family Members & Others” by Brian Smith, friends and family sometimes disassociate with their loved one when the symptoms start to progressively get worse. This happens more often than not, simply because they do not understand, which is truly disheartening. Any person, regardless of what mental illness they have or do not have, requires support from their families. When a person has schizophrenia, they may resist treatment. This is when it is extremely important for family and friends to step up and help them get through a difficult time, and get the proper treatment that they need.
Brian Smith also gives tips to families on how to help their loved one. Family members and friends should speak up for their loved one with schizophrenia when at doctor’s appointments because they may not disclose all their symptoms. Close ones can also help in encouraging them to go for treatment, as they may be resistant. They should also learn how to respond when their loved one is experiencing delusions or hallucinations. It is important not to argue with them because it is very real to them. Keeping track of the medications they are taking, symptoms that they are experiencing, and the severity of symptoms is just as important.
The first episode of schizophrenia can be the hardest, especially since the family may not have any prior experience when trying to work through it. In the article, “Discovering Someone Close to you has Schizophrenia”, a mother with a daughter who was diagnosed with schizophrenia states, “I couldn’t believe our sensible, studious daughter. She had changed into a person I hardly recognized. She refused to change her clothes and said she heard voices telling her she was evil and deserved to die.” It is important for family members to lean on each other for support because together, you can allow the loved one with schizophrenia to have a more successful treatment process.
There are different resources for families to turn to when they are struggling with ways to help their loved one. There are mental health professionals, as well as online forums to talk with other families in the same position. One forum, in particular, has multiple people posting regularly and a lot of people have great insight to give back. They cover any topic having to do with a relative having schizophrenia. Some people share experiences, some ask questions and receive answers from those who have experience. Regardless of the circumstances, families can go on this forum to gain help and advice from other families. Sometimes talking to someone in a similar position helps increase trust their advice because they too understand and maybe experienced similar things in the past. Also, the article, “60 Tips for Helping People who have Schizophrenia” gives some great tips on how to help a loved one, as well as how to help oneself. This article reminds people that there is no one to blame for this diagnosis and it reminds families that they are not alone.
There are many resources for educating and helping friends and family through a new diagnosis of schizophrenia that will make the process a little easier for both families and their loved one. It is important that those with schizophrenia are supported when going through the treatments and dealing with symptoms. Always remember that you are not alone.
Dickens, R. NAMI Sibling and Adult Children Network (n.d.). 60 Tips for Helping People who have Schizophrenia. Retrieved March 21, 2018, from http://www.schizophrenia.com/family/60tip.html
Discovering Someone Close to you has Schizophrenia. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2018, from http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/health_information/a_z_mental_health_and_addiction_information/schizophrenia/schizophrenia_information_guide/Pages/schizophrenia_Discovering.aspx
Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussions Forum. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2018, from https://family.schizophrenia.com/
Smith, B. (2018, January 20). Helpful Hints about Schizophrenia for Family Members & Others. Retrieved March 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/helpful-hints-about-schizophrenia-for-family-members-and others/