help for schizophrenia

How to Help Someone With Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a complex mental health issue and can feel overwhelming for both the person experiencing symptoms and the loved ones who surround them. With many facets to the disorder, it’s hard to know where to start if you have concerns. Let’s talk a little about schizophrenia and how you can help someone who is exhibiting these symptoms.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that affects a person’s ability to perceive the reality of the world around them. Symptoms of schizophrenia include

  • Delusions: A person with delusions holds beliefs that are not based in fact or reality. This could look like person who talks about the government needing them for a special mission, but they have no connection to local or federal government to make this a plausible scenario.
  • Hallucinations: Someone who is experiencing hallucinations will talk about people or objects they “see”, but that object or person does not exist or is not visible to others. This person might talk to the person or thing they are seeing or describe what they see to you.
  • Disorganized speech: Another symptom of schizophrenia is disorganized speech. If your loved one is talking in sentences that are not cohesive and don’t make logical sense, this could be a sign of schizophrenia. 
  • Trouble with thinking: Often, those who are exhibiting signs of schizophrenia will have difficulty thinking clearly and may struggle to answer basic questions. While this is not always a sign of this specific condition, if you are noticing confusion in conjunction with other symptoms, there may be reason for concern.
  • Lack of motivation: If you are noticing that your loved one has recently lost interest in the things they used to enjoy or is failing to care for their basic needs (food, hygiene, work), this is also a symptom of schizophrenia. This can be an indication of other issues as well, such as depression, so it’s important that you are taking note of all the symptoms you are noticing.

What to Do if You Notice Signs of Schizophrenia

So now you know what the signs of schizophrenia are, but what do you do if you start noticing these in your loved one? It can be upsetting to see these symptoms and not know how to help. Perhaps one of the most worrisome things is if your loved one isn’t noticing these symptoms themselves – this is often the case with schizophrenia. Those who have this condition are rarely aware that what they are experiencing is abnormal and not based in reality, so it’s important to have someone who can help them recognize this. 

If you are noticing symptoms, a great starting place is to start keeping track of what you’re observing and the frequency of these symptoms. Try to keep a log that includes what symptoms you are seeing, when they are happening, and any details about the symptoms that point to a potential diagnosis of schizophrenia. While you want to keep track of these symptoms, it’s also important to respect your loved one’s privacy. It’s not recommended that you attempt to video record any symptoms, as it can cause more distress in those situations.

Symptoms of schizophrenia can be frightening for both you and the person experiencing them, so the best thing to do during an episode is to create a calming environment for the person. This could include talking them through what they are seeing or hearing and letting them know you are there for them. In those moments, the priority is the person’s safety, so talking to them about what they are experiencing can provide time and space to relieve anxiety.

Begin With an Intervention

Schizophrenia is not something that can be managed without professional help, so while these tools are helpful, it should not replace pursuing professional treatment. As you are noticing and tracking these symptoms, begin having conversations with your loved one about what you have noticed. It is likely that they will not see any issues or understand your concern because of their altered perception of reality, so pull in additional support when needed.

Our team at Whitman Recovery Service can provide the support and intervention services to get your loved one the help they need. Contact us today to discuss our intervention process and help your loved one begin their path to healing.