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Schizophrenia

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If someone who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia has any behavior change that might indicate treatment is not working, it is best to call the doctor. If the family, friends, or guardians of a person with schizophrenia believe symptoms are increasing, a doctor should be called as well. Do not overlook the possibility of another medical problem in addition to the schizophrenia.

  • On a general level, anyone with an acute change in mental status (a noticeable change in behavior), whether diagnosed with schizophrenia or not, should be taken to a hospital or a physician for evaluation. The behavior change may indicate a readily treatable medical illness that, if not treated early, can cause permanent physical damage.
  • Someone with schizophrenia should be taken to the hospital if medical illness is suspected. People with schizophrenia may or may not be able to communicate their symptoms in the same way as someone who does not have schizophrenia. This situation requires a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Moreover, medical illness can aggravate schizophrenia.

Take your loved one with schizophrenia immediately to the hospital and/or call "911". if he or she is in danger of self-harm or harming others. People with schizophrenia are much more likely than the general population to commit suicide  .

  • A quick way to assess whether someone is suicidal or homicidal is to ask the questions: "Do you want to hurt or kill yourself?" "Do you want to hurt or kill anyone?" "Are you hearing any voices?" and "What are the voices telling you?" People will tell you what is on their mind and should be taken seriously when they verbalize these thoughts.

Many families fear abusing the emergency medical system when these and similar issues arise. However, if you have any doubts, go to the emergency department. Don't worry about whether the visit should be made. If, afterward, the health concern is found not to be an emergency problem, then everyone is relieved likewise, if a medical emergency is found, you have made the right decision. The medical professionals can reassure you that you made the right decision in the face of unknown medical questions about someone else's health.

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Self-Care at Home

Home care for a person with schizophrenia depends on how ill the person is and on the family or guardian's ability to care for the person. The ability to care for a person with schizophrenia is tied closely to time, emotional strength, and financial reserves.

In spite of these possible barriers, basic issues to address with people with schizophrenia, include the following:

  • First, ensure that your loved one is taking prescribed medications. One of the most common reasons that people with schizophrenia relapse into a new episode is that they quit taking medication. Family members might see much improvement and mistakenly assume medications may no longer be needed. That is a disastrous assumption. A later psychotic outbreak will likely happen.
  • The family should provide a caring, safe environment that allows for as much freedom of action as is appropriate at the time. Any hostility in the environment should be reduced or eliminated. Likewise, any criticism should be reduced.
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Psychosocial Treatments

In spite of successful antipsychotic treatment, many patients with schizophrenia have difficulty with motivation, activities of daily living, relationships, and communication skills. Also, since the illness typically begins during the years critical to education and professional training, these patients lack social and work skills and experience. In these cases, the psychosocial treatments help most, and many useful treatment approaches have been developed to assist people suffering from schizophrenia.

  • Individual psychotherapy: This involves regular sessions between just the patient and a therapist focused on past or current problems, thoughts, feelings, or relationships. Thus, via contact with a trained professional, people with schizophrenia become able to understand more about the illness, to learn about themselves and to better handle the problems of their daily lives. They become better able to differentiate between what is real and, by contrast, what is not and can acquire beneficial problem-solving skills.
  • Rehabilitation:Rehabilitation may include job and vocational counseling, problem solving, social skills training, and education in money management. Thus, patients learn skills required for successful reintegration into their community following discharge from the hospital.
  • Family education:Research has consistently shown that people with schizophrenia who have involved families fare better than those who battle the condition alone. Insofar as possible, all family members should be involved in the care of your loved one.
  • Self-help groups:Outside support for family members of those with schizophrenia is necessary and desirable. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is an in-depth resource. This outreach organization offers information on all treatments for schizophrenia, including home care.
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