Schizophrenia and the caregiver

As a family member or close friend, you may help take care of your loved one who has schizophrenia. You can help your loved one stay in treatment, take his or her medicines, and prevent symptoms from coming back (relapse). You also can help your loved one deal with symptoms and learn skills to help him or her get along in the community.

Tips for family members and friends

  • Accept that schizophrenia is a long-term problem. People who do this usually adjust better to helping their loved ones.
  • Learn about schizophrenia. This includes understanding what happens with schizophrenia and how you and your loved one can cope with the illness.1
  • Keep your emotions in check. Too much emotion can make recovery harder because it can be very stressful to your loved one. Try not to be critical, over-involved, or mean.
  • Know where to find help for your loved one, such as family services and emergency care.
  • Know what to do if your loved one has a relapse.
  • Don't blame your loved one for his or her behavior.
  • Be calm when your loved one has severe symptoms. Call the person quietly by name, or ask the person to tell you what he or she is experiencing. Be calm and soothing, and don't argue with the person or tell him or her that the voices are not real. Call for help if you think the situation could become dangerous.

Tips for working with professionals

  • If you think someone you love has schizophrenia, help the person get to a doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment may make treatment more successful.
  • Ask for family education and possibly family therapy. Talk with a therapist or counselor about what is happening. Talk about the symptoms, even if they are scary. Family therapy helps prevent relapse and teaches you and your loved one to work together.1, 2
  • Keep in touch with your loved one's doctor, therapist, or counselor about how things are going.

Citations

  1. Lehman AF, et al. (2004). Practice guideline for the treatment of patients with schizophrenia, second edition. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161(2, Suppl): 1–56.
  2. Sadock BJ, Sadock VA (2007). Schizophrenia. In Kaplan and Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry, 10th ed., pp. 467–497. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Last Updated: August 28, 2008

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