How to Manage Schizophrenia
"Will I ever get back to normal?"
Although Schizophrenia is known to be characterized by recurrences and remissions, may persons with the illness have been known to have maintained recovery and lead productive and meaningful lives. Here are some useful tips at staying well:
The person with Schizophrenia must visit the doctor regularly and discuss with him steps to take to maintain his state of recovery from his symptoms as well as discuss with him his daily activities and how best he can use this to structure his day, and more importantly find meaning in it.
o Take medications regularly as prescribed
o Take control of one's life
o Do only one thing at a time instead of doing everything at once
o Avoid people, places, and things that one feels uneasy about
o Do something new only when feeling up to it
o Keep one's sense of humor
o Break big tasks into small, easy-to-handle doable activities
o Ask for needs even if feeling afraid at first
o Solve problems while they're still small
o Spot early warnings of possible crisis and do something about it right away
o Celebrate success everyday
o Continue to participate and be involved with the family at all times
o Try to join activities in the community so that friendships can be established and social interactions can make one feel acceptable in the community.
Getting Back to Normal
What happens after positive symptoms have been controlled?
Schizophrenia can make it difficult to deal with the demands of every day life. Sometimes this is because of the symptoms. Sometimes, the illness may have gone on for so long that the person may just have got out of the habit of doing things for himself. Ordinary things - washing, answering the door, shopping, making a phone call, or chatting with a friend - can seem very difficult.
Medication can help up to a point but the person needs to be able to get other types of help to have the best chance of getting better. These should be provided by one's local mental health team, and social services and voluntary organizations in the area.
Support from the Community Mental Health Professionals
Occupational therapists can help the person with Schizophrenia be clear what his skills are and what he can do. They can also show him how to improve things he isn't doing so well . They can work out ways of helping him to do more for himself and help him improve his social skills.
Clinical psychologists may be available to give cognitive and behavioral therapy. This can help the person feel better about himself and to learn new ways of solving problems. We now know that cognitive therapy can also help the person control troublesome hallucinations or delusional ideas. Other kinds of psychotherapy may be helpful if there are things that the person needs to talk over in greater depth.
Psychiatrists are available to prescribe the person's medications and discuss with him the benefits, side effects or any questions that he has regarding his illness.
The Schizophrenic Person's Family
It may be hard to understand what is happening if a son or daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister, develops Schizophrenia. They may have become odd, distant, or just different from how they used to be. They may be avoiding contact with people and may seem to be less active. If they have delusional ideas, they may well keep quiet about them. If they are hearing voices, they may suddenly look away from you as if they are listening to something else. When you speak to them, they may say little, or be difficult to understand. Their sleep pattern may change so that they stay up all night and sleep during the day.
Sometimes, no one realizes what is happening. There may be wonder if this behavior is just rebellious or perverse. It can happen so slowly that, only when you look back can you see when it started. It can be particularly difficult to recognize these changes if the illness develops during teenage years. This is a time when young people are changing anyway, and often experimenting with new freedoms and lifestyles.
If it is realized that Schizophrenia is the problem, one may start to blame oneself and wonder "Was it my fault?" The person may wonder if anyone else in the family is going to be affected, what the future holds or how they can get the best help.
Families also need advice. What do they need to do? Someone with Schizophrenia will be more sensitive to stress, so it is helpful to avoid arguments and to keep calm - perhaps easier said than done.
The psychiatric or mental health team needs to listen to the worries and concerns of families. It can advise on drugs and their side effects, as well as suggesting small manageable tasks that may help recovery.
How can families affected by Schizophrenia cope more easily?
- Learn as much as possible, as soon as possible about the illness.
- Seek the help of health care professionals who can be your allies.
- Contact self-help groups for families affected by Schizophrenia.
- Accept that it is a complex illness which requires professional help.
- Know the origins of the pressures which may be affecting the family.
- Pay great attention to the needs of the other family members.
- Take heed that unconditional self-sacrifice leads to effective caring.
- Be aware that way too much time with the person can worsen matters.
- Maintain your own friendships and activities outside the home.
- Work towards independence for your relative with Schizophrenia
- Discover that the ability to look at things differently leads to coping.
- Take very good care of yourself too.