Signs Your Loved One Has Schizophrenia
Although only a mental health professional can diagnose and treat schizophrenia, loved ones often play important roles in identifying symptoms and encouraging treatment. As such, it’s important for everyone to know what schizophrenia is, the signs and symptoms, and how professionals treat the disorder.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that affects about one percent of the population. There is no cure for schizophrenia, and patients live with the disorder for their whole lives. However, certain treatments can help lessen the severity of the symptoms and help patients live healthy lives.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Many symptoms of schizophrenia take place inside the patient’s mind, so loved ones may not notice those. However, some signs of schizophrenia may be apparent to those around the patient, including:
- Abnormal movements: People with schizophrenia may have unusual motor behaviors, including inappropriate agitation, strange postures, and movements that make no sense to others. They may also completely disregard instructions or fail to respond when people talk to them.
- Disorganized communication: Many people with schizophrenia think in disorganized ways, which leads to difficulties in communication. The person may respond to questions with only partial answers or responses that do not correspond to the question.
- Difficulty with everyday functioning: If your loved one has schizophrenia, you may notice that the person stops taking care of their hygiene, speaks in a monotone voice, does not display emotions, or refuses to participate in daily activities.
- Hallucinations: If you find your loved one communicating with people who are not there, they may be having a hallucination. When someone has a hallucination, they experience all the same sensory feelings as they would if the thing was real.
- Delusions: A person with schizophrenia may start talking about beliefs they have that you know are not founded in reality. For example, the person may believe they are being watched or think they are famous. The delusions may also revolve around another person’s feelings about them, their own abilities, or possible future events.
Generally, mental health professionals do not diagnose someone with schizophrenia until the symptoms have continued for at least six months.
How to Help If You See the Signs of Schizophrenia
Unfortunately, the very nature of schizophrenia makes it difficult for patients to seek the treatment they need. People with the disorder may not believe they need help at all, or they may distrust anyone who tries to offer assistance. This dynamic means that patients often need loved ones to guide them toward professional help.
If you believe someone you know may have schizophrenia, you may feel nervous about approaching the subject. The following tips can help:
- Speak with sympathy and kindness. Let them know that you are on their team.
- Offer to help find a qualified professional and make the appointment.
- Don’t discount any of their feelings about the situation. Validate their feelings and try to see their side.
- Offer to go to the first appointment with them.
- Promise to continue loving them no matter the diagnosis or outcome.
If your loved one poses a threat to themselves or someone else, call 9-1-1 or take them to the nearest emergency room. Although you may not see your loved one as someone who could hurt another person, it’s important to remember that schizophrenia changes how people act.
Treatment Options for Schizophrenia
Because people with schizophrenia respond to treatment differently, it can take some time to find the right treatment plan that works for your loved one. Depending on the symptoms, your loved one’s treatment may include:
- Individual therapy
- Family therapy
- Social services, such as vocational rehabilitation and support
- Electroconvulsive therapy
- Social skills training
If someone you know exhibits the signs of schizophrenia, contact FLBH. Our compassionate and well-trained professionals can help you and your family through this difficult time.