Schizophrenia is not a life-sentence – recovery is possible especially with your support.
Schizophrenia is a difficult condition to live with, and it is important for people to understand how to best assist them. Proper engagement helps to ease the burden off of patients and also possibly yield better outcomes. Below is a list of aspects to consider when interacting with people diagnosed with Schizophrenia:
1. Schizophrenia makes one vulnerable to stigma
The general populace often widely misunderstands the condition of schizophrenia. The diagnosis is misunderstood to be synonymous with having “multiple personalities,” although this is a misnomer. When a person displays symptoms of schizophrenia, people are quick to judge and misunderstand the person’s actual experience. People also get impatient and exasperated that one suffering cannot merely “snap out of it”. This frustration causes a person afflicted to then bear the brunt of stigma, prejudice and resentments from others.
Carers can engage patients in a way that diffuses the burden of stigma by sensationalising a person’s experiences by upholding a non-judgmental attitude. A person with schizophrenia is just as much a person like anyone else and should be treated with dignity and respect.
2. Have an attitude of patience and curiosity
It is important to not rush the patient, but instead have an attitude of patience. Take time to allow the person to express themselves, showing interest in hearing their story. Sometimes it is easy to judge based on external appearances, so it is helpful to fully understand the person’s perspective. Express curiosity as they tell their story can help them feel encouraged that their perspective matters. This dialogue also better informs a carer as to what treatment would be best.
3. They may be tired due to long histories
Many people who have schizophrenia at disabling levels have experience with inpatient psychiatric hospitalisations, some cycling in and out of hospitals for years. Many also have been members of day programs, where they constantly attend groups on “coping skills” and other clinically-themed groups. Talking about wellness for years can become monotonous and boring, causing a person to feel jaded about their potential for recovery. When engaging with them, merely acknowledging this potential fatigue can help a person feel validated.
4. Side effects from medications can be difficult
Antipsychotic medications can cause drastic side effects in a person. This includes extreme weight gain, a continual flat affect and also conditions like tardive dyskinesia. Experiencing these conditions can cause a person to be further disheartened, and can also motivate non-compliance with a treatment plan.
Even if a person is diagnosed with schizophrenia for many years, this does not determine that a person have an unfulfilling for the rest of their life. Carers should always have hope and faith that continued treatment can eventually rehabilitate a person to a fully functioning condition.
Although schizophrenia can limit a person’s capacities, carers should try their best to alleviate the condition. Long-term treatment does not determine a person’s future, and the utmost respect should be held regarding a person’s permanent prognosis.