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Caring forYour Loved One

Whether you are supporting a son, daughter, cousin, spouse, uncle, or friend with schizophrenia, you can make a difference by getting involved in the recovery process of your loved one. And they can make a difference in your life, too.

As a caregiver, you may be able to help your loved one get the right treatment options to help manage their symptoms. You also can help them set and work toward goals and create a recovery plan.

How to Manage Symptoms

Tips for helping a loved one manage symptoms

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Find the Right Medication

Taking medication regularly, as prescribed, is important for your loved one’s well-being. Supportive treatments, such as psychotherapy, also are important.

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Ask for Help

If your loved one is having difficulty with a certain medication, such as side effects, or cannot remember to take it, talk to their doctor right away.

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Be Prepared

Help your loved one create a crisis plan with their preferences and the contact information of important treatment team members.

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Watch for Episodes

Ask your doctor about common triggers. Contact the treatment team right away if your loved one is showing any of the warning signs of an episode.

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Be Part of Treatment Plan Visits

As a caregiver to someone with schizophrenia, you can support your loved one by connecting with their treatment team and participating in medication and treatment decisions.

A typical mental health treatment team includes doctors (eg, psychiatrists), psychologists, case managers, and peer specialists who provide support and treatment for your loved one along the recovery journey.

Remember that doctors and other team members must uphold privacy and confidentiality policies by law. For the treatment team to share information with you, your loved one must give them written or verbal permission.

Ways to Help

Explore Medication and Treatment Options

Before the appointment, talk to your loved one about their wants and needs from their medication and supportive treatments. Take some time to learn about treatment options to manage the symptoms of their condition.

Attend Doctor Visits

In addition to helping ensure that your loved one makes it to appointments, you can provide support by taking notes, helping communicate your loved one’s needs and wants, asking additional questions, and just being another set of ears.

Participate in Treatment Decisions

There may be times when your loved one wants support making decisions about their treatment and recovery. How much or how little you are involved is up to your loved one. Talk about how you can help to make decisions together. 

Be Involved in Follow-up

After the appointment, you can keep in touch with the treatment team to discuss progress and provide updates—including any side effects or changes in symptoms.

Stay Positive

Having hope and believing in yourself can inspire you to accomplish your goals.

Track Your Successes and Challenges

Remember to share your progress with your treatment team and give yourself credit for the work you are doing.

Support Your Loved One Through Their Treatment Journey

Practical Tips

  • Learn About the Diagnosis

    Read about topics like what symptoms you can expect to see and the available treatment options.

  • Identify Barriers and Solutions

    Talk to your loved one’s doctor about what barriers they may face while receiving treatment and the other services they may need.

  • Set Realistic Expectations

    Knowing your loved one’s diagnosis and treatment is only half the solution. You must also understand what being healthy will look like for them, because it’ll be different from person to person.

  • Take Care of Yourself

    To help them, you must ensure that you are healthy as well, and this includes maintaining an emotional support system.

  • Stay Connected and Involved

    It is important to remain connected to your loved one's treatment, so you know what medications they should be taking and when their medical appointments are.

Communication Tips

  • Empower a Loved One to Speak Up

    Encourage your loved one to express his or her needs, have a voice in treatment and recovery decisions, and be open and honest.

  • Listen Carefully

    Pay close attention to what your loved one is saying. You can repeat what you have heard to make sure that you have understood and show that you are truly listening.

  • Ask Questions

    When you’re not certain what your loved one is trying to say or what they need, ask follow-up questions so you can better understand.

  • Try to Understand Your Loved One's Experience

    If your loved one has delusions or hallucinations, remember that they are real, to them. Saying the beliefs are wrong or imaginary is not helpful. You can acknowledge that the beliefs are real without supporting the actual delusions.

  • Communicate Clear Expectations

    Everyone has challenges and limitations, so being realistic and expressing what you expect from each other may help reduce conflict.

  • Put Yourself in Someone Else's Shoes

    Sometimes you may think that you are expressing concern, yet your loved one experiences it as "nagging." Before you speak, think about how what you say and how you say it might impact your loved one. Check in to find out what he or she hears versus what you have said. You may be surprised that words and tone matter.

  • Reduce Stress During Conversations

    Stress can be a trigger for your loved one, so stay supportive and positive. Try to speak to one person at a time and keep your voice calm and even. Have a sense of humor when possible.

Curious about a specific, once-monthly option for adults with schizophrenia?

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What’s Next?

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