Helpful Hints about Schizophrenia for Family Members and Others

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People with schizophrenia often encounter challenges when it comes to their friends and family. Family often try and cope with someone who has schizophrenia for a period of time, but can become frustrated by their seeming lack of progress in treatment or staying in treatment altogether. A family’s emotional support may wane, and some families cut off all contact with their schizophrenic son, daughter or sibling.

Friends can also not understand a person with schizophrenia’s experiences, and quickly lose interest in continuing the friendship when a person with schizophrenia deteriorates or drops out of treatment. The most common complaint amongst friends and family members of a person with schizophrenia is not understanding how to help them, or give them continued, long-term support that help keeps them from becoming homeless or unemployed.

A person’s support system may come from several sources, including the family, a professional residential or day program provider, shelter operators, friends or roommates, professional case managers, churches and synagogues, and others. Because many patients live with their families, the following discussion frequently uses the term “family.” However, this should not be taken to imply that families ought to be the primary support system.

By BRIAN SMITH, MS

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