Very seldom the pain and agony being experienced by a schizophrenic patient in a family only stays with him or her. It impacts other healthy members staying with the patient as well, mentally, psychologically and physically. And, the worst manifestation of it all is a feeling of guilt that further compounds the problem for the patient and his close family members, who also happen to be the main care-givers.
Shame & blame syndrome
The guilt feeling and a deep sense of shame following it often are the result of a typical shame and blame syndrome. As a close and dear one suffers rights in front of their eyes others family members watch helplessly. A sense of guilt slowly starts creeping in amid an overwhelming realisation: perhaps they are only to be blamed for the situation and could have avoided letting things come to such a pass.
No need for guilt feeling!
The fact of the matter, however, is scientists and psychiatrists are yet to identify the root cause of the disease, one reason why mental health doctors still rely heavily on symptoms to diagnose and treat a patient suffering from schizophrenia. On the face of it, thus, the sense of guilt among the family members may appear irrational but it is something that be better discouraged for the larger good of patient and the entire family.
Family critical to cure
No wonder, the modern mental healthcare stresses on maximum involvement of close family members to speed up the cure process. So, along with patients family members are also involved in counselling sessions and treatment process. It is said that the real treatment of a schizophrenic patient starts only after he or she has been handed over to the family by the doctor after initial treatment in a hospital.
It thus becomes of paramount importance that family members remain mentally and physically active and well prepared to respond to any exigencies, if the situation so arises. This becomes further imperative because of the typical nature of the mental disease that is often marked by breakdown of thought process, bouts of irrational behaviour, delusion and sense of utter mental chaos and isolation.
Learn coping skills
This brings us to the next important issue of helping family members learn coping skills and strategies to properly take care of their schizophrenic dear one, who banks of them during the treatment and recovery phases. Family members can approach a therapist to learn the coping and strategic skills. They can learn to make sure that the patient sticks to the treatment regimen. Keeping handy a list of emergency and other important contact numbers of outpatient and family service providers is always helpful.
Any improvement in the condition of a schizophrenic person has a great bearing on stronger family-patient bonding. A closely-knit family is better placed to understand the difficulties being faced by patient and hence in a far better position to effectively address his or her mental health issues. This is something too much to expect from an outsider, non-family member. Family members are in close contact with their father, brother, mother, brother or child patients and hence in a better position to keep track of any negative symptomatic behaviour and intervene as and when required.