Refusing TreatmentFamily support and friendship can make a world of a difference for individuals with Schizophrenia or psychosis, but it isn’t always clear how we can help. Where do you start? What can you do? Here are some tips.
1-Educate yourself about the disorder. Do online research and talk to your loved one’s providers. The more you know, the more you’re prepared. As a start, check out our article on Schizophrenia and What it’s like to be psychotic.
2-Communicate with your loved one’s providers. You are their best advocate. Keep track of the details, and keep the providers in the loop. Let them know information about new or untreated symptoms, medications, side effects, drug abuse, good and bad habits, stress, and future goals. Sometimes the person with Schizophrenia refuses to get medical care. If that is the case, the SANE Australia website has an excellent article called Refusing Treatment to give you some direction. Remember, unless there are concerns of violence to self or others, you can’t force anyone into treatment.
3-Don’t try to talk a Schizophrenic out of his delusions. A person with Schizophrenia will have moments when they are psychotic. Psychosis means they’re confused, experiencing hallucinations, or having strange thoughts called delusions. Not sure how to respond to psychosis? Relax your shoulders and show curiosity. Say “Tell me more” or “What’s that like for you?” and just listen. Don’t try to convince the individual they’re wrong. That usually results in arguments. Rather, talk in a calm voice, refer to “symptoms” rather than “disorder,” and be patient. If you don’t get your message communicated today, try again tomorrow.
4-Be a calming influence. People with Schizophrenia do best in environments where family and friends aren’t overly emotional, demanding, or critical, as the disorder sometimes makes it difficult to understand emotions. Try not to scream or demand an emotional response from them.
5-Keep things simple and take it slow. When it comes to goals, little steps do the trick. Every step in the right direction is an enormous one, whether it’s agreeing to take a shower, accepting a medication, cooperating with an interview for housing, or working on an undergraduate degree. If a task seems too complicated or overwhelming, help them break it down into small steps.
6-Be direct and to-the-point. Communicate honestly, be straightforward, and use basic everyday vocabulary. Keep body language simple. Teach by example. In addition to telling them how it’s done, show them.
7-Encourage your loved one to take their medications. Medications are key to gaining stability for people with Schizophrenia, but they don’t always see the improvement themselves. They often refuse to continue their medications once discharged. A long-acting injectable antipsychotic can be helpful in this situation. They range in price and frequency but can replace “by mouth” pills.
8-Call 911 if you aren’t feeling safe. Sometimes a person with Schizophrenia can lose touch with reality so much that they’re dangerous to themselves or others. If needed, call emergency services or go to the emergency room for help.
9-Keep abreast of research studies. There’s a lot going on. In addition to regular antipsychotics and electroconvulsive therapy, look into studies involving glutamate agents. Certain video games, exercise, diet changes, social-skills training, special apps for Schizophrenics, and neurocognitive rehabilitation have also shown success. Don’t forget to look into Multifamily Group Treatment for Schizophrenia. And this is just a start.
10-Take care of YOURSELF! Caring for someone with Schizophrenia can be draining. Care for yourself first. Make sure to do stuff you enjoy. Find time to maintain friendships. Keep up that yoga, tennis, artwork, or study in French. If you’re overwhelmed, reach out for help. That might mean getting in touch with family or friends or looking for professional respite. If you’re dealing with anxiety or depression, consider getting a talk-therapist or seeing a psychiatrist. Remember, you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.
Are you aware of research not described above? Or are you caring for someone with Schizophrenia and wish to describe your experience? If so, we invite you to comment below! Thanks so much.