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A Guide for Schizophrenia Patient’s Caregivers

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If a loved one is struggling with schizophrenia, your first question would be “How to help them manage this illness?” The schizophrenia recovery process is a challenging journey but there are several ways in which you can help your loved one while ensuring your own mental and physical wellbeing.

At Cadabams, we not only focus on recovering individuals but also ensure support and care for their family members and caregivers. Through our family intervention programs and support groups, we equip families to deal with difficult situations in the recovery journey of their loved one.    

Schizophrenia can affect an individual to an extent that they become incapable of taking care of themselves. At this time, the role of a caregiver, family, or friend becomes important. Taking care of an individual suffering from schizophrenia can be challenging as they can get aggressive due to the symptoms of the condition.

Schizophrenia can change a person drastically; the way they think, see the world, converse with others, and even their social behavior. It can change almost everything about them.

It rarely happens that the pain and agony experienced by people with schizophrenia tend to stay only with them. That’s because it also affects their family members, disrupts relationships with friends, and severely hampers their social life. Schizophrenia patient’s caregivers who stay with them, also get mentally, psychologically, and physically affected. And, the worst manifestation of it is a feeling of guilt that further compounds the problem for the patient and their close family members.

Schizophrenia’s Effect on Family & Other Relationships

Sometimes, the schizophrenia effect on the family can be quite drastic. People with schizophrenia are often emotionally unavailable because they are preoccupied with their mental stress. One of the prominent schizophrenia effects is delusions. Their false notions, delusions, and hallucinations make them paranoid and confused about everything around them. Consequently, family members often feel hurt and frustrated. Here are a few causes, effects, and aftereffects of schizophrenia patient care –

  • When the Family Neglects Symptoms

Dealing with this condition can be very frustrating for family and friends, and for anyone who knew the person before they got ill.

It is observed that an individual develops this condition mainly during their adolescent years, often causing the parents to overlook the early symptoms and dismiss them as just normal teenage behavior. Awareness about schizophrenia is very important to ensure early detection of the symptoms and proper care of the individual.

  • The Blame Game

Once this condition is detected, it can be disruptive to families; the members of the family constantly keep searching for someone to blame for the development of this condition. The reactions of the family members (to another family member acquiring this disease) may, at times, result in the ‘shame and blame’ syndrome. This can cause estrangement and disagreements among the family members.

  • Stress and Trauma

It may be hard for the family to cope with the change in behavior, attitude, and the way in which the person suffering from schizophrenia communicates. What adds more to the stress and trauma for family and friends is to see their loved one struggling to keep up with reality and experiencing auditory hallucinations and other kinds of hallucinations at times.

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  • Depression and Denial

This condition can cause depression in both the patient as well as the family or caregiver. Anyone close to them gets affected by their sudden and extreme change in behavior.

Stigma around mental disorders are still very prevalent in our society and this restricts people to seek support and professional help. It is frequently found that having a mental disorder such as schizophrenia could affect the social standing of the patients as well as their family. This causes them to stay in denial of the condition. Even when there is suspicion of the condition due to some reasons, the patient may refuse to get help or even a proper diagnosis. It may continually result in household quarrels and long-lasting family feuds, and it may cause the patient to feel neglected and out-of-place.

Tips for Helping a Family Member with Schizophrenia

  • Educate yourself: Learning about schizophrenia and its treatment will allow you to make informed decisions about how best to manage it, work towards recovery, and handle setbacks.
  • Plan their day: Plan their day, and make sure the activities are predictable. When you are giving them a task, break them into small and easy steps. If changes are made, ensure they are gradual and not sudden. Changes are important to avoid boredom. In planning some activities, let them make the decision but make sure the matter is not complex for them to decide.
  • Provide stimulation: Ensure you introduce something new in their routine now and then. Also, ensure the new activity is something they like. The activity has to be simple and easy, if necessary, involving familiar people. Let them perform in this activity; do not expect them to excel at the first go. Remember to praise and appreciate them for their effort and achievement.
  • Reduce stress: Stress can cause schizophrenia symptoms to flare up, so it’s important to create a structured and supportive environment for your loved one. Avoid putting pressure on them or criticizing perceived shortcomings.
  • Encourage them to socialize: Schizophrenia affects the social life as the patient is too confined within their thoughts and notions. Encourage them to talk to other family members and old friends. Even if it is superficial, encourage them. Take them out for walks and gathering, if possible, and encourage them to talk to other people.
  • Get others involved: Talk to other family members and friends and ask them to get involved and interact and support the individual. Educate them about the disorder, its symptoms, and its effects. Social support can play an important role in helping the individual function better.
  • Do not point out their delusion: Avoid discussing details of their delusional comments. Do not try to convince them that a belief is wrong or not real. Schizophrenia effects on relationships can be tough to handle. Do not complicate it further by pointing out their false notions.
  • Set realistic expectations: It’s important to be realistic about the challenges and limitations of schizophrenia. Help your loved one set and achieve manageable goals, and be patient with the pace of recovery and schizophrenia treatment plans.
  • Listen: If the patient is agitated, listen calmly and respectfully. Respond by focusing your attention primarily on reality-based remarks.
  • Empower your loved one: Be careful that you’re not taking over and doing things for your family member that they are capable of doing. Try to support your loved one while still encouraging as much independence as possible.
  • Under difficult situations: There are the times when they can become aggressive and difficult to handle, due to their symptoms. During these times, do not confront them, stay in control, and stay calm. Let them do what they want, but also keep an eye on them so that they don’t harm themselves or others. Try to communicate by being understanding and assertive.
  • Medications and therapies: Ensure they take their medications on time and attend their therapy sessions. Following the therapy and other treatments can be difficult for them, and they will even want to stop. But encourage them by being understanding and showing that you are concerned.

Understanding, Acceptance, and Recovery – Schizophrenia Treatment

It is important for the family to understand the condition and accept it completely. It is essential to have a strong support system because it will help with the recovery process.

It is important to know that recovery doesn’t mean that the condition is going to go away. It is  helping one cope with the symptoms and the conditions enabling the patient to live and enjoy a normal life.

Leading a Normal Life with a Positive Attitude

Despite these effects and hindrances, the patient and their family can lead a normal and happy life, considering there is proper medication combined with psychotherapy involved in schizophrenia treatment. It is important to remember that having schizophrenia is not the end of the world, it does not bring down your social status in any way. It is treatable and the condition may be stabilized to some extent. The key is to stay positive.

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Schizophrenia Treatment in India

The effects of these treatment options may vary from individual to individual. It is more effective when the individual goes through both medications and psychotherapy. Though the effects of schizophrenia are devastating, it can be managed effectively with the help of  available therapies and family and social support. Living with schizophrenia can be quite tough. At Cadabams, we aim to help people get an early diagnosis and speedy treatment plan for a better and healthy life. Our expert team of psychiatrists is the best in the country and holds three decades of experience in treating the most complex cases of schizophrenia. The specialists at Cadabams carefully tailor a schizophrenia patient care plan for every individual.

Taking care of a schizophrenia patient can be overwhelming and you may feel exhausted. It is important that the caregivers take care of themselves first, and monitor their physical and mental wellbeing while taking care of the patient. Cadabams Hospitals not only have expertise in providing the best Schizophrenia treatments but also offer many different therapies and counseling options for the caregiver to stay mentally stable while taking care of others.

To understand treatment options available for schizophrenia, call us on our helpline @ +91961194949.

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