Supporting a person with schizophrenia
If you have a friend or family member with schizophrenia, helping them find treatment and cope with symptoms can make a huge difference in their recovery. Dealing with schizophrenia can be difficult even if you are not the one with the condition, but you don’t have to cope on your own.
It is important to offer support to the person, but it is also important to look after yourself and take advantage of the support groups available.
If someone close to you has schizophrenia, you may struggle with a mixture of difficult emotions. You will often feel fear, guilt, anger, frustration and sometimes hopeless.
The illness can be hard to accept and you may feel lost on how to help them. In order to cope with schizophrenia in your family, try to:
- accept the illness
- be realistic
- keep your sense of humour.
Your friend or family member needs to feel better, happy and enjoy their life – do your best to help them achieve that but pay the same attention to your own health.
When supporting someone with schizophrenia, try to remember these tips:
Educate yourself – Researching the condition and the treatment available will help you make informed decisions about managing the illness.
Set realistic expectations – It is important to be realistic about the challenges your friend will face. Help them set achievable goals and be patient.
Reduce stress – Stress can cause symptoms to flare up so a structured, supportive environment is important. Try not to put pressure on your friend.
Empower them – Support them, but encourage independence. They are still capable of doing things so try not to limit them.
As mentioned above, is it important to take care of yourself when supporting someone with schizophrenia. Keeping a positive, optimistic outlook on the situation is much easier when you also have a support network.
Don’t forget about your own well-being; if you become unwell or stressed, you will be no help to your friend. To be the most helpful you can be, try to:
- Look after your health. Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise.
- Make time for yourself, don’t forget to make time for the things you enjoy.
- Join a support group. Share your experiences with others who know what you are going through and can offer advice.
- Maintain relationships. Don’t forget about your other friends and family, they are there to support you and hold you up when you are down.
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