When someone in your life is experiencing a mental health disorder like schizophrenia, it can be troubling. You may feel there is nowhere to turn to ask questions. It may also feel uncomfortable to talk to the person about what they are experiencing. Nevertheless, getting answers as to how you can support a loved one during a challenging time is important. Supporting your loved one with a schizophrenia diagnosis is crucial to helping them live a good life.
Reaching out to clinics in your area, such as Alter Wellness Care, is a great first step. The licensed mental health professionals in the clinic can provide you with answers to your questions. They can also provide you with resources on supporting a loved one who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
What Does It Mean to Have a Schizophrenia Diagnosis?
After finding out your loved one has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, you may be wondering exactly what this means for them and for you or your family. Understanding the symptoms and underlying conditions that cause a schizophrenia diagnosis is crucial to helping them in their daily life.
There are various symptoms that one with a schizophrenia diagnosis may exhibit. Some examples include psychotic symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms.
First, psychotic symptoms can include hallucinations, delusions, thought disorder, and movement disorder. Hallucinations include hearing voices, as well as sensing people and things that are not truly there. It is important to note that a person with schizophrenia may not show they are hearing voices. Watching for signs that they may be struggling with hallucinations can be helpful when caring for them.
Examples of delusions include the following:
- Believing that people around them, on the radio or television, are trying to send them special messages or require a certain response
- Having strong and, at times, irrational beliefs that may not be true
- Believing that they may be in danger or that others are trying to hurt them when there is no present danger
Meanwhile, thought disorder involves unusual or illogical thinking. Some other signs of thought disorder include:
- Difficulty organizing speech and thoughts
- Abruptly ceasing talking in the middle of a thought
- Jumping from topic to topic or making up words that have no meaning
Next, negative symptoms can include a loss of interest in daily activities or a loss of motivation. Your loved one may have withdrawn from social life or have difficulty showing emotions. You may notice that it can be a challenge for them to function in normal parameters.
Negative symptoms can also include:
- Trouble planning or sticking with daily activities such as shopping
- Difficulty in anticipating or feeling pleasure in everyday life
- Talking in a dull tone or limiting facial expressions
- Avoiding social situations or acting strangely during social activities
- Extremely low energy or spending an inordinate amount of time participating in passive activities
- Stop moving or talking for a period, or in a rare state of catatonia
It is important to understand that these symptoms could also be signs of depression or another mental condition. Talking to a mental health professional can help clarify what these symptoms mean for your loved one.
Lastly, cognitive symptoms involve issues with concentration, memory loss, or inattentiveness. These symptoms can make it difficult for your loved one to remember basic things, like scheduled appointments. They may also have trouble following a conversation or learning new things.
Cognitive symptoms may also include troubles with:
- Processing information to make decisions
- Using information immediately after learning it
- Focusing, concentrating, or paying attention
When your loved one is experiencing cognitive symptoms associated with this disorder, it may predict how they will function day-to-day. Specific tests can help evaluate the severity of these symptoms in your loved one.
Caring for a Loved One With a Schizophrenia Diagnosis
When caring for a loved one with a schizophrenia diagnosis, it is important to remember that there are resources and support groups to help you. Supporting a loved one with this disorder can be a challenge at times, and having others around who share the same experience can be helpful.
For example, treatment facilities often offer educational resources and support groups for families. To learn more about these programs along with family educational programs, contact Alter Wellness Care. The team can direct you to additional resources for supporting your loved one.
By actively showing your loved one you care, you are helping them live a better life. Some examples of helping them can include:
- Helping them get treatment from clinics, such as Alter Wellness Care
- Connect them with mental health professionals, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist
- Encourage them to stay in treatment and support them when they are challenged by learning new skills to cope with and manage their symptoms
- Remember that their hallucinations, delusions, and irrational fears of beliefs are very real to them; be gentle in your approach to help them when these symptoms occur
- Be respectful and kind without tolerating dangerous, violent, or inappropriate behavior
- Attend support groups or reach out to a counselor to learn new skills in supporting your loved one
As a supporter of a loved one with schizophrenia, remember there is help for you too. Always reach out.
If you are caring for a loved one with a schizophrenia diagnosis, you are not alone. When you contact the mental health staff at Alter Wellness Care, they can provide you with answers to your questions and guide you through steps you can take to support your loved one. We have treated clients with this disorder and recognize that being supported by family and friends is crucial to their overall well-being. While our outpatient services and inpatient programs can serve your loved one medically, as the caregiver or supporter you need the right resources to help them. Contact us at (866) 311-3510 to learn more about how you can support your loved one no matter the state of their condition.