Good family support and friendship are vital for helping individuals with Schizophrenia or psychosis, but it isn’t always clear how loved ones can help. Where do you start? What can you do? Here are some tips at helping someone with psychosis.
1-Educate yourself about the disorder. Do online research and talk to your loved one’s providers. The more you know, the more you’re prepared. For more information, check out the articles Schizophrenia and What it’s like to be psychotic.
2-Communicate with your loved one’s providers. You are their best advocate. Keep track of the details, and keep the providers in the loop. Let them know information about new or untreated symptoms, medications, side effects, drug abuse, good and bad habits, stressors, and future goals.
3-Don’t try to talk a Schizophrenic out of his delusions. A person with Schizophrenia will have moments when they’re clear-minded and moments when they are psychotic. Psychosis means they’re experiencing hallucinations or strange belief systems, or delusions. Not sure how to respond to psychosis? Say “Tell me more” or “What’s that like for you?” and just listen. Don’t try to convince a Schizophrenic they’re wrong. They’ll only argue with you and possibly get agitated. Consider contacting their provider for a medication adjustment if they’re more psychotic than usual.
4-Be a calming influence. People with Schizophrenia do best in environments where others aren’t overly emotional, demanding, or critical, as they sometimes have difficulty understanding emotions. Try not to scream or demand an emotional response from them, no matter how much you need it.
5-Keep things simple and take it slow. When it comes to goals for the future, little steps seem to do the trick.
6-Be direct and to-the-point. Communicate honestly and straightforward, and use basic language. Instead of saying, “Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day,” consider, “A goal can be reached if you break it down into small steps.” People with psychosis sometimes have problems understanding complex language, especially during an acute episode of psychosis.
7-Encourage your loved one to take their medications. Medications are vital for people with Schizophrenia. If they refuse to take their meds, talk to their provider about switching to a long-acting injectable antipsychotic. These are medication shots that are taken every two weeks or less often. They replace “by mouth” pills.
8-Call 911 if you aren’t feeling safe. Sometimes a person with Schizophrenia can lose touch with reality so much that they’re dangerous to themselves or others. If needed, call emergency services or go to the emergency room for help.
9-Take care of YOURSELF! It can be draining caring for someone with Schizophrenia. Make sure to do stuff you enjoy. Find time to maintain old friendships. Keep up that yoga, tennis, artwork, or French studies. If you’re overwhelmed, reach out for help. That might mean getting in touch with family or friends or looking for professional respite. If you’re dealing with anxiety or depression, consider getting a talk-therapist or seeing a psychiatrist. Remember, you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself!