Schizophrenia is a chronic disease. The symptoms of schizophrenia can affect many of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The severity of these symptoms may fluctuate, and even very sick people can sometimes feel and look normal even without medication. Remission of symptoms does not mean that the disease has disappeared.
Modern antipsychotic drugs have greatly reduced the severity of symptoms and the time to active symptoms. However, you should expect time to remission and time to relapse.
Very good / Cindy Chung
The impact of symptoms
With the help of your doctor, case manager, and relatives, it is important for you to figure out what kind of support you need, and then put the support in place. Depending on the severity of your illness, you may encounter problems with important skills, such as:
- Concentrate and stay focused
- Remember appointments, meetings, or past conversations
- Have energy and motivation to do normal activities
- Feel hopeful or optimistic about trying or doing new things
- Accurately perceive and interpret social cues and facial expressions
- Participate in the conversation in the way others expect
- Socialize in the way others expect
- Overcome social isolation
It is important to plan ahead, even if you feel relatively well, because you may experience more severe symptoms again. Schizophrenia can sometimes make it difficult for you to recognize the signs of these symptoms on your own, so you may need to rely on feedback from others to understand that your behavior is changing. People you can ask to follow changes include:
- People who live with you
- A doctor or social worker you see frequently
- People who work with you or go to school with you
- family member
When you decide who can take care of you, tell them the phone number of your doctor. You may also want to provide your doctor with a list of approved people, and they may call them about your care. Without your permission, your doctor or social worker will not provide anyone with information about you (your privacy is protected by strict federal laws), but they can listen to the information provided by these people.
How others can help
People often don’t understand what life is like for people with schizophrenia. Educate your support staff about what types of changes need to be made. Because even if you are relatively healthy, you may have problems in some of these areas, so they should pay attention to changes in your behavior.
Important changes you can tell your support staff to look for include:
- Getting up in the morning is more difficult
- Late for work or school
- Appear hollow or more easily distracted
- Doesn’t look so happy
- Looks more irritable or irritable
- Memory is worse than usual or more difficult in mental tasks
- Seems to respond to hallucinations
- Fascinated or distressed by things that seem strange or delusional
If you seek help from a doctor or social worker immediately after these changes occur, temporarily changing the medication may prevent a full recurrence.
Usually, you can return to the previous dose after the crisis has passed, or your doctor may change your medicine to something more effective for you.
Steps you can take
Almost everyone is eager to establish social and emotional connections with others. Schizophrenia is an isolated disease, especially when your activity symptoms make you see, hear, and believe things that other people cannot share. Even if you are not experiencing positive delusions or hallucinations, your residual and negative symptoms can make social interaction more difficult.
Things you can do to improve your social experience include:
- Join a peer support group. This gives you the opportunity to meet other people who understand and share the same challenges. You will learn strategies that are effective for others, and you will be able to practice social skills in a non-judgmental atmosphere. These can be found online or in your community.
- solicit opinions. Don’t be afraid to ask your relatives, counselors, and close friends for feedback and help improve your social skills. Your support group wants you to feel good and experience the best life possible, and will do everything it can to help achieve this goal.
- Consider community housing. Community housing and collective housing can provide social and collective entertainment opportunities. In order to obtain a living environment that provides high-quality care and a safe and friendly environment, it is important to shop carefully.
- Participate in social skills training. You may find this through your mental health service team or community group. Similar to the benefits of peer groups, these training courses can provide a space to share challenges and reduce loneliness and isolation in your experience.
- Supporting services. Some areas provide dating and friendship services for people with mental health problems. Seek advice from your consumer self-help group.
Emotion regulation in patients with schizophrenia can be challenging. When the mood seems to be getting better, you and your support team may feel frustrated. Moments like these can feel isolated and may cause someone to feel hurt. It is important to take steps to learn how to deal with emotions during this journey, and there are many things you can do to help this process.
An important part of learning how to regulate our emotions is to understand what they are and why we have them. Actively and continuously participating in your treatment, such as individual, family and group consultations, can give you time to explore and learn how to recognize the emotions you are experiencing and how to best manage them as they begin to escalate.
Just like with other people, it is helpful to talk to supporters when our emotions escalate or when we are having difficulty dealing with our own experiences. Being able to turn to supporters is a kind of courage, and it can be helpful in our journey. Just taking time to slow down and talk about our experiences can help us ease our emotions and find a sense of peace again.
You may encounter moments when the emotions are too strong, or feel uncomfortable turning to someone at that moment. A good option is to keep a diary. Just like talking about experiences, keeping a diary can help us slow down what happens to us and give us the opportunity to understand our emotions and behavior patterns.
The idea of self-care can be challenging for most of us. However, when you are struggling with the symptoms of schizophrenia, the situation may be more difficult. Remember that it is important to spend time for your health and happiness. These may be simple things, such as:
- Enjoy coffee or tea
- Sit outside
- Watching wild animals
- Write in your diary
- Spend time with friends
Practical daily life
Everyone needs help sometimes to keep up with the tasks of daily life. For example, most people must use a calendar or smartphone to help them remember appointments and keep track of what they need to do. Some people rely on their spouses to choose clothes for them or help them remember housework. There is no right answer to how much help a person “should” need.
The independent life of a person with schizophrenia involves many clear skills. Social workers refer to these activities of daily living as ADL. Skills that a person may need to improve include:
- Take the medicine at the right time every day
- Bathing, washing hair, brushing teeth, trimming nails
- Make the bed and change the sheets when needed
- Prepare healthy meals and eat regularly
- Clean your living space, such as kitchen and bathroom
- Grocery shopping and errands
- Manage funds and stick to the budget
- Use public transportation
You may need to spend time thinking about which tasks make you feel more difficult than others. For things that you find to be more challenging to do regularly, it is helpful to recruit members of your support system for help and accountability. Discuss with them about setting personal goals in these areas and discuss how they can help you.
Mistakes to avoid
Don’t wait for help
The symptoms of schizophrenia usually develop gradually, so it is difficult for people to recognize patterns until they become obvious. Talking to your doctor right away can help you better understand what is happening and allow you to start the treatment process faster.
Schizophrenia Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide to help you ask the right questions the next time you see a doctor.
Don’t let schizophrenia define you
Schizophrenia involves experiencing some significant symptoms. However, it is important to remember that this situation is not all to you. Contact with family and friends is very important, reminding us that we are not alone and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Don’t try to solve the problem by yourself
Even when we notice that our behavior patterns are worrying, it is easy to try to hide them and “fix” them on our own. Schizophrenia involves complex symptoms, and the intensity of these symptoms will increase if not resolved by proper treatment.
Don’t skip treatment or appointment
When your symptoms begin to diminish, you may feel that there is no need to attend your treatment appointment, group treatment course, or your medication management appointment. Not attending treatment appointments continuously may have a negative impact on your overall success in the process. It’s important to be consistent.
For nursing staff
Caring for a loved one with schizophrenia can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to feel impossible. The first step is to understand your understanding of the condition. Due to the nature of the symptoms experienced, many people find schizophrenia daunting. Learning from mental health professionals and other resources can help you get useful information.
Although your job is to provide support during the treatment of your loved one, remember that you also need support. Many times, caregivers are too focused on helping others and neglect to spend time for their own happiness. Finding a local support group, or even online group support resources, can be a great way to share experiences and seek encouragement.