Coping with schizophrenia isn’t easy. But if you or a family member or friend is struggling, there is help. NAMI and NAMI Affiliates are here to provide you with support for you and your family and information about community resources. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about schizophrenia or finding support and resources.
If you have schizophrenia, the condition can exert control over your thoughts, interfere with functioning and if not treated, lead to a crisis. Here are some ways to help manage your illness.
- Manage Stress. Stress can trigger psychosis and make the symptoms of schizophrenia worse, so keeping it under control is extremely important. Know your limits, both at home and at work or school. Don’t take on more than you can handle and take time to yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
- Try to get plenty of sleep. When you’re on medication, you most likely need even more sleep than the standard eight hours. Many people with schizophrenia have trouble with sleep, but lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise and avoiding caffeine can help.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. Substance use affects the benefits of medication and worsens symptoms. If you have a substance use problem, seek help.
- Maintain connections. Having friends and family involved in your treatment plan can go a long way towards recovery. People living with schizophrenia often have a difficult time in social situations, so surrounding yourself with people who understand this can make the transition back into daily social life smoother. If you feel you can, consider joining a schizophrenia support group or getting involved with a local church, club, or other organization.
If you live with a mental health condition, learn more about managing your mental health and finding the support you need.
Helping a Family Member or Friend
Learning about psychosis and schizophrenia will help you understand what your friend or family member is experiencing and trying to cope with. Living with schizophrenia is challenging. Here are some ways you can show support:
- Respond calmly. To your loved one, the hallucinations seem real, so it doesn’t help to say they are imaginary. Calmly explain that you see things differently. Being respectful without tolerating dangerous or inappropriate behavior.
- Pay attention to triggers. You can help your family member or friend understand, and try to avoid, the situations that trigger his or her symptoms or cause a relapse or disrupt normal activities.
- Help ensure medications are taken as prescribed. Many people question whether they still need the medication when they’re feeling better, or if they don’t like the side effects. Encourage your loved one to take his or her medication regularly to prevent symptoms from coming back or getting worse.
- Understanding lack of awareness (anosognosia). Your family member or friend one may be unable to see that he or she has schizophrenia. Rather than trying to convince the person he or she has schizophrenia, you can show support by helping him or her be safe, get therapy, and take the prescribed medications.
- Help avoid drugs or alcohol. These substances are known to worsen schizophrenia symptoms and trigger psychosis. If your loved one develops a substance use disorder, getting help is essential.
Find out more about taking care of your family member or friend and yourself.