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There is still much to be learned about schizophrenia because it’s a relatively rare mental illness not known to most of the population.

It can be difficult for those close to someone with this condition to empathize and offer help. Fortunately, there are a few ways that family members and friends can practice to assist a loved one battling schizophrenia. This blog will provide an overview of how to help a family member suffering from schizophrenia.

Research about schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental illness affecting approximately 1% of the world’s population. Even though this is a rare disorder, identifying the symptoms is a no-brainer. The common symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, and behavioral issues. 

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder triggered by a host of reasons. Although the exact cause of the disease is still a mystery, a combination of genetics, brain chemistry, and environment is thought to trigger this condition. Among these factors, genetics are to blame in up to 80% of cases. That said, blood relatives of people with schizophrenia are inherently at risk of developing the disorder.

Neurotransmitter imbalances could also be a reason for this mental disorder. On the other hand, environmental factors, including trauma, substance abuse, and stress, are considered primary triggers of schizophrenia.

Understand the role of a caregiver

Once you have clarity on the disease, having patience and empathy with your loved one can be a good start. You will likely have to put yourself into the role of primary/secondary caregiving. Caregivers of people with schizophrenia play an important role in providing crucial support. It is important to understand the types of treatments available, such as medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Caregivers should also be able to provide emotional support to the patient, helping them to manage everyday chores and providing companionship during distress. Caregivers can help individuals monitor their symptoms, recognize early warning signs or potential triggers, and stay in touch with a healthcare team. Additionally, they can help the patient find resources in the community, such as support groups, recreational activities or any positive distractions that might help. Note that being a caregiver can be stressful sometimes, and you should regularly care for yourself too. So, don’t forget to reward yourself from time to time.

Help them recover emotionally

Supporting a patient with schizophrenia as their primary caregiver requires patience and understanding. Try to listen to their feelings and acknowledge what they are going through. Compassionate communication helps as it emphasizes empathy and understanding rather than judgment or criticism. Creating day-to-day structure can benefit the patient, such as setting regular bedtimes, meals, and activities. Learning more about the disorder and its symptoms can help you approach and respond to difficult situations accordingly. Finally, encouraging engagement in meaningful activities such as art or music therapy can provide an outlet that helps them manage their symptoms while also boosting self-confidence.

Help them with medication

There are several options available in terms of medication and treatment. Talk with their doctor or therapist about their options. Plus, you can search for online support groups and forums that can provide advice and information. 

As a primary caregiver, you should monitor their medication regime and make sure they are taking the right dosage at the right time to avoid any potential side effects or other unwanted experiences associated with the drugs. Keep in touch with the patient’s doctor or psychiatrist and schedule regular visits to keep their mental health in check.

Additionally, providing emotional support during this time can help reduce anxiety about taking medication and aid in sticking to the plan. Finally, modeling healthy behavior around medication use can help reinforce positive behaviors in the patient.

Seek professional help

In case family members are unable to fulfill the role of primary caregiver for a patient with schizophrenia, they can explore other viable options, such as a professional caregiver. Professional caregiving services can provide direct assistance with day-to-day activities such as bathing, dressing, medication reminders, and other needs. Local agencies can also be contacted for in-home care or supported living options. Mental health support groups or peer counseling programs may also be available in your area, offering additional advice and guidance from people who have experienced similar situations. Additionally, social workers can assist with finding appropriate housing and services for the patient.

Published by HOLR Magazine.