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A person struggling with their mental health needs special attention and care. The support of their family as well as their caretaker can make a huge difference to their health and well-being. In fact, there have been several cases, where this strategy has helped mental health patients to lead a healthy and happy life.
Schizophrenia is one such mental health condition, in which a patient needs way more supervision than normal. There are many do’s and don’ts that must be kept in mind to keep the illness in check. And that’s why it is essential to know some tips to deal with someone who’s living with schizophrenia.
But before we reveal it all, it’s important to understand all about the condition first.
According to Dr Sonal Anand, a psychiatrist at Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai, schizophrenia is a disorder of the brain that causes difficulties in interpreting reality. It affects the person’s ability to think and behave rationally, impacting his daily life. It is not a split personality or multiple personality issue. It is present in 1 percent of the world’s population.
“The exact cause is still not known. It is mostly a combination of genetics and the environment. Having a family member with schizophrenia is a risk factor, and having even one parent affected with schizophrenia increases the risk even further,” says Dr Anand.
She adds, “Life stressors may play a role in the formation of initial symptoms.”
According to a study published in the journal Psychological Medicine, it has been found that smokers have nearly double the risk of developing schizophrenia in comparison to those who don’t? That means our lifestyle also has a role to play.
Schizophrenia is characterised by delusions or hallucinations as well as abnormal speech / behaviour/ emotions. Sometimes, all these symptoms could be there together. Delusions are a disorder of thought. Paranoid delusions are most common, where a person feels that someone is plotting against him/ her or trying to kill him/ her or the family.
Hallucinations are a disorder of perception, where the affected person can hear various voices in his/her ears, as if someone is talking. But in reality, no one is there. There can be visual, tactile and gustatory hallucinations.
“Muttering to self, smiling inappropriately, and reduced self-care could be some of the problems. The inability to express one’s emotions may make the patient cut off from the outside world. He/ she may seem self-absorbed. Aggression may also be seen in some schizophrenics,” suggests Dr Anand.
1. Do not label the patient, just because it is a mental illness. It is a disorder just like any other, so bias should be avoided.
2. Doctor consultations and regular follow-ups are mandatory. Make sure the person does not skip medication.
3. Give emotional support to the person by asking about his / her feelings and emotions. Even if the person doesn’t open up, don’t give up.
4. Proper treatment can help with good remission.
5. Do not argue vigorously with the person, as no matter how hard you try he/she will not be able to understand the rationale behind the argument.
6. These patients have very low motivation and may need a positive approach, so make sure you listen to the problems carefully and suggest alternatives.
7. Help them stay active and stress-free. Playing sports, doing yoga or meditation can be really helpful for patients with schizophrenia.
8. Sometimes, daily routine things like bathing and brushing could be a problem. In such cases, be a bit affirmative and strict regarding personal hygiene.
9. Regular medication will help in these matters. Keep the flow of communication going, and be more careful about negative talk.
10. If the patient is talking about ending his/her life, make sure you talk to the mental health professional as soon as possible.
11. If they are into alcoholism or drugs, then be their confidant and help them get rid of it. Professional help can also come in handy.