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Coping with Schizophrenia


Submitted by: Sedina Cikari (M.A Psychology) 


If you or a family member or friends are diagnosed with schizophrenia, it is important to understand ways to cope with this type of mental disorder.


Schizophrenia not only affects a person experiencing it, but the person’s family and friends as well. This disorder can cause significant changes in a family’s lifestyle, time management, and physical and mental well-being. Therefore, in order to help yourself and the person with schizophrenia, these guidelines are necessary to know: 


                        1.    Accept the disorder. 


One of the most important factors among family members of a person with schizophrenia is how difficult it is to accept this disorder. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder associated with distortion of reality and language and thought disturbances, which may be difficult to understand. Therefore, one of the most crucial steps is to educate yourself about schizophrenia, which will help you in the process of accepting. Remember: If you have difficulty accepting the disorder, the person with schizophrenia will have greater difficulty treating it without your support. 


2.    Educate yourself.

There are many sources where you can educate yourself about schizophrenia. Other than talking to a counselor, psychiatrist, or medical doctor of the person with schizophrenia, many internet websites offer reliable information at no cost. Websites that are educational (.edu), governmental (.gov), and organizational (.org) often offer the most reliable information about this disorder. 



3.    It’s not your fault.

Many people, especially parents and siblings, blame themselves when a family member is diagnosed with schizophrenia. They often ask why it has to be them or what they did to deserve it, and whether their genetics have caused the person to experience schizophrenia. Negative thoughts and blame won’t help the person and the family in the treatment process. But you can practice positive behaviors towards this disorder, which will help all involved in this process. 


4.    Set realistic expectations/goals.

While you may have your own goals and expectations outside of the treatment process, it is important not to overwork yourself, as well as not to expect too much from the person with schizophrenia. Overworking yourself can only increase the stress in the family. Also, it is essential that you help your family member with schizophrenia set goals and encourage him or her to reach them. However, it is not advisable that you force him or her to reach his or her goals if he or she is experiencing withdrawal or lack of energy in doing so. 


5.    Be supportive.

The best reinforcement that the person with schizophrenia can get is your own support in his or her treatment. While it is unhealthy to estrange the person because of symptoms experienced regularly, it is also unhealthy to enmesh him or her. The support you are giving them should be unconditional and reflective of their desires. 


6.    Seek support group/relationships.

Other than being supportive of your family member with schizophrenia, one of the significant factors in coping with this disorder is that you seek support groups and other relationships that can help you cope. Joining a support group can help you or the person with schizophrenia meet and talk to others with similar experiences, and give each other advice and information about the treatment process. Also, support groups help lower anxiety and feelings of isolation while in the treatment process. 


7.    Reduce stress.

Stress is one of the major factors worsening schizophrenia. It is imperative to have a supportive, functional, and stress-less, environment in order to help your family member through the treatment process. For example, criticizing and pressuring him or her will cause symptoms of schizophrenia to worsen. Instead, it is advisable that you encourage him or her to function independently as well as offer your help whenever necessary.


8.    Manage time.

Shuttling through necessary parts of the treatment process on top of your daily schedule can be very difficult. Therefore, setting priorities is the most important part of a daily schedule when attempting to manage time while caring for a family member with schizophrenia. While caregiving can be exhausting, taking time to do things you enjoy can improve positive behaviours and emotions in further caregiving. 


9.    Maintain your own health.

Stress and lack of time management skills can cause negative effects on your health as well. It is very important to learn to relax, sleep enough, and eat healthy foods. These steps are beneficial to your health and as you care for the person with schizophrenia.


10. Don’t give up.

The treatment process in schizophrenia cases may take a very long time, so it is vital that you maintain a positive drive throughout this process. The treatment often involves a medication regimen that needs to be followed regularly, and oftentimes the person with schizophrenia may lose interest in following the regimen. Therefore, the caregiver should always attempt to keep him or her motivated, because once the motivation has decreased and a medication regimen has been compromised, it is harder to get back on track.



MEHEP website contains general information and should not be substituted for medical advise, diagnosis, treatment or referral services. MEHEP recommend that you seek knowledge, skill and judgment from a qualified psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians or health care provider about your medical condition. MEHEP is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of the MEHEP website. MEHEP is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites.

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