Schizophrenia and the Family Network
Ensuring that people with schizophrenia continue to get treatment and take their medication after they leave the hospital is also important. If patients stop taking their medication or stop going for follow-up appointments, their psychotic symptoms will return. If the symptoms of schizophrenia become severe enough, the affected person may:
- Become unable to care for his or her basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter
- Neglect personal hygiene
- End up on the street or in jail, where they rarely receive the kind of help they need.
Family and friends can also help patients set realistic goals and regain their ability to function in the world. Each step towards these goals should be small enough to be attainable, and the patient should pursue them in an atmosphere of support. People with a mental illness who are pressured and criticized usually regress. Their symptoms usually get worse in this situation. Telling them what they are doing right is the best way to help them move forward.
How should you respond when someone with schizophrenia makes statements that are strange or clearly false? Since these bizarre beliefs or hallucinations are very real to the patient, it will not be useful to say they are wrong or imaginary. Going along with the delusions will not be helpful, either. It is best to calmly say that you see things differently than the patient does, but acknowledge that everyone has the right to see things in their own way. Being respectful, supportive, and kind without tolerating dangerous or inappropriate behavior is the most helpful way to approach people with this disorder.