By Jose Thomas
Schizophrenia is a mental illness where people might withdraw from people, feel confused, lose interest in things and be prone to angry outbursts. Schizophrenia symptoms can include slower thinking, talking and movement, jumbled thoughts, emotional flatness or a lack of thought processes, reduced motivation, changes in sleeping patterns and body language, and an indifference to social contact. Symptoms might also include hallucinations (seeing, hearing and smelling things others don’t) and delusions (strong beliefs or experiences that are not in line with generally accepted reality).
Schizophrenia is a maldevelopmental disorder of the brain that manifests in positive, negative, cognitive and affective symptoms. Currently, the mainstay of treatment involves pharmacotherapy. The limitations of antipsychotic treatment are that they can only control symptoms and cannot cure the illness, and 20% of patients do not respond, thus leading to the requirement of maintenance treatment. Patients that do respond continue to have disabling residual symptoms such as amotivation and isolation, maladaptive behaviour, and impaired social functioning. These symptoms prevent patients from attaining educational, occupational, and social roles. Psychosocial interventions and models of quality of life in schizophrenia are based on the notion that increases in psychosocial functioning will be related to improvement in subjective experiences, such as self-esteem and satisfaction with life. The comparative effect of specific treatment methods and the additional benefits of multiple treatments need to be explored. Diversified techniques have also been employed, such as shaping, cognitive process therapy, mastery-oriented skill training, motivation and enhancement.
The rehabilitation process doesn’t end in a psychiatric hospital or nursing home or a rehabilitation centre. It is a lifelong process was the family and the person affected with it hold hand in hand towards managing with the disability owed by the problem. A proper rehabilitation requires well understanding of the problem from family and the client side.
Here are some tips which will help in implementing rehabilitation process at home.
If a family member or someone close to you has schizophrenia, you may be struggling with any number of difficult emotions, including fear, guilt, anger, frustration, and hopelessness. The illness may be difficult for you to accept. You may feel helpless in the face of your loved one’s symptoms. Or you may be worried about the stigma of schizophrenia, or confused and embarrassed by strange behaviours you don’t understand. You may even be tempted to hide your loved one’s illness from others.
In order to deal successfully with schizophrenia and help your family member, it’s important to:
Do your best to help your family member feel better and enjoy life, pay the same attention to your own needs, and remain hopeful.
The best way to assist the recovery of a family member with schizophrenia is to get them into treatment and help them stick with it. Often, the first challenge of treatment is convincing the ill relative to see a doctor. To people experiencing delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia, there is no need for medical intervention because the voices and conspiracy theories are real.
If a family member with schizophrenia is reluctant to see a doctor, the following strategies might help:
Once your family member is in treatment, careful monitoring can ensure that he or she is staying on track and getting the most out of medication. You can help out in the following ways.
Stopping medication is the most frequent cause of relapse in schizophrenia, so it’s extremely important that your family member continues to take all medication as directed. Many people whose schizophrenia is stabilized or in remission still require medication to maintain their treatment gains and keep symptoms at bay.
Unfortunately, even if a person is taking medication as prescribed, relapse into an acute psychotic episode of schizophrenia can occur. But if you learn to recognize the early warning signs of relapse and take immediate steps to deal with them, you may be able to prevent a full-blown crisis. The warning signs of relapse are often similar to the symptoms and behaviours that led up to the person’s first psychotic episode.
Common warning signs of schizophrenia relapse
Deterioration of personal hygiene
Confusing or nonsensical speech
If you notice any warning signs of relapse or other indications that your family member’s symptoms of schizophrenia are getting worse, call the doctor right away.
Despite your best efforts to prevent relapse, there may be times when your family member’s condition deteriorates rapidly and drastically. During a schizophrenia crisis, you must get help for your family member as soon as possible. Hospitalization may be required to keep your loved one safe.
It’s important for the family members of people with schizophrenia to prepare for such crisis situations. Having an emergency plan ready for an acute psychotic episode will help you handle the crisis safely and quickly. A good emergency plan for a family member with schizophrenia includes:
It’s also wise to go over the emergency plan with your family member. The crisis situation may be less frightening and upsetting to your loved one If he or she knows what to expect during an emergency.
10 Tips for Handling a Schizophrenia Crisis
Source: World Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders
Treatment for schizophrenia cannot succeed if your family member doesn’t have a stable, supportive place to live. But finding the right living situation for a person with schizophrenia can be challenging. When considering housing options, think about the individual needs of the person with schizophrenia:
For many families, the most difficult choice involves whether or not the relative with schizophrenia should live at home. Living with family can be a good option for people with schizophrenia if their family members understand the illness well, have a strong support system of their own, and are willing and able to provide whatever assistance is needed.
At-home arrangements are less likely to be successful if the person with schizophrenia uses drugs or alcohol, resists taking medication, or is aggressive or uncooperative.
|Choosing the Right Housing Option for a Person with Schizophrenia|
|Adapted from: Schizophrenia: A Handbook For Families, Health Canada|
If an at-home living arrangement isn’t the right fit, make contact with local mental health facilities, social service agencies, support groups, and public housing authorities. These organizations can help you explore the residential facilities in your community and put your family member’s name on the appropriate waiting lists.
Options in your area may include:
Schizophrenia is not an end to the life but if the person develops a proper insight to the problem and if the family has proper understanding towards managing and helping the person with the problem a proper rehabilitation process can bridge all the gaps which has been created by the social stigma. Hope this article will could help you to understand the various tips and options which will ease your mind while thinking about treating Schizophrenia.
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