Do not challenge
Sometimes, dealing with the symptoms of schizophrenia can be frustrating. It is important not to challenge your loved ones’ beliefs, instead explain that, although you do not see things the same way, you understand that the situation may appear differently to them.
You can find more information about schizophrenia in our About schizophrenia section
Discuss treatment together
- What your loved one wants to achieve from treatment
- The available medications, including oral antipsychotics (taken daily or sometimes several times a day) and long-acting treatments (given every 2 weeks, once monthly or 3 monthly), so that you can work together with the healthcare team to identify the best option for your loved one
- How you will review progress together to maximise the benefits of treatment
Be a source of motivation
If you are close to someone with schizophrenia, you may play a role in helping them take their medication. Your encouragement is really important in helping them to see medication as an important part of getting better, as stopping medication or taking it irregularly is the most common reason for relapse.
Know the signs and symptoms
People with schizophrenia can sometimes find it difficult to recognise when they are becoming unwell. Asking them how they are finding their medication and whether they are experiencing side-effects can make it easier to spot if something is wrong. If they tell you they are struggling with their treatment, or you start to notice symptoms, encourage them to talk to their healthcare team. Warning signs include:
- Sleeping and eating less or refusing to get out of bed
- Inability to concentrate
- Unusual ideas or strange use of words
- Poor personal hygiene
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of interest and motivation in daily activities
It is important to be prepared in case a psychotic episode does occur. In the event that it does, remain calm, reduce the number of distractions in the room, and remember that your friend or family member may be frightened by their own feelings or loss of control. You should seek professional help as soon as possible, so ensure you have a list of emergency contact numbers and addresses including the relevant healthcare team contacts.
Take a positive approach
Just like everyone else, people with schizophrenia need to know when they are doing things right. A positive approach can be far more effective than criticising behaviour and actions. Talking openly about their condition and concerns may also help them feel respected and valued.
Hear how Evelyn maintains a positive attitude towards her son’s schizophrenia: