Helping a Person with Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Schizophrenia and the family: How to help your loved one

If a family member or someone close to you has schizophrenia, you may be struggling with any number of difficult emotions, including fear, guilt, anger, frustration, and hopelessness. The illness may be difficult for you to accept. You may feel helpless in the face of your loved one’s symptoms. Or you may be worried about the stigma of schizophrenia, or confused and embarrassed by strange behaviors you don’t understand. You may even be tempted to hide your loved one’s illness from others.

In order to deal successfully with schizophrenia and help your family member, it’s important to:

  • accept the illness and its difficulties
  • be realistic in what you expect of the person with schizophrenia and of yourself
  • maintain a sense of humor

Do your best to help your family member feel better and enjoy life, pay the same attention to your own needs, and remain hopeful.

Tips for helping a family member with schizophrenia

  • Educate yourself. Learning about schizophrenia and its treatment will allow you to make informed decisions about how best to manage the illness, work toward recovery, and handle setbacks.
  • Reduce stress. Stress can cause schizophrenia symptoms to flare up, so it’s important to create a structured and supportive environment for your family member. Avoid putting pressure on your loved one or criticizing perceived shortcomings.
  • Set realistic expectations. It’s important to be realistic about the challenges and limitations of schizophrenia. Help your loved one set and achieve manageable goals, and be patient with the pace of recovery.
  • Empower your loved one. Be careful that you’re not taking over and doing things for your family member that he or she is capable of doing. Try to support your loved one while still encouraging as much independence as possible.