How to Tell If Someone Has Schizophrenia
Approximately one percent of the world’s population lives with schizophrenia, which is a serious mental health disorder that requires lifelong treatment. If you know even 100 people through family, work, school, and friends, you have a good chance of knowing someone who lives with this disorder.
Only a mental health professional can diagnose someone with schizophrenia (or any other mental health disorder). However, friends and family often notice signs that someone may need help from such a professional. By knowing the signs, you can help someone you love seek diagnostic help and treatment.
Signs of Schizophrenia
Some signs and symptoms of schizophrenia take place entirely in the person’s mind, others are more noticeable to others. Some of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- Hallucinations: If you notice your loved one responding to voices or images that aren’t there, the person may be having hallucinations. Remember that while you do not see or hear these things, the person having the hallucination experiences it as if it were completely real. Be gentle and sympathetic when approaching a loved one about a hallucination.
- Delusions: Although delusions are related to hallucinations, they are not the same thing. Delusions involve false beliefs. A person suffering from a delusion may be paranoid about being watched, for example. Delusions may also include beliefs about the person’s level of fame, abilities, other people’s feelings toward the person, or future events.
- Withdrawing from daily life: Loved ones sometimes notice that someone with schizophrenia stops bathing, displays a flat affect, or stops participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
- Disorganized speech and thinking: If you ask a loved one with schizophrenia any question, you may get only partial answers, or the response may be completely unrelated to the question.
- Abnormal motor behavior: People with schizophrenia often move and behave in ways that don’t make sense to those around them. The unusual movements can range from an unnatural posture to inappropriate outbursts of anger.
Other disorders can cause some of these symptoms, so it’s important to let a professional make the diagnosis. Symptoms must occur for at least six months before a person can receive a schizophrenia diagnosis.
How You Can Help Someone with Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Due to the nature of schizophrenia, people with the disorder rarely recognize that they need professional help or that anything is wrong. They may also be fearful or paranoid about mental health professionals. As such, people with the disorder need their loved ones to steer them toward treatment.
Although you cannot force your loved one to receive the care they deserve, you can help guide them. Here are five ways to help someone manage the symptoms of schizophrenia:
- Be calm and sympathetic when you approach the subject of getting help.
- Reinforce the idea that they deserve to be happy and healthy.
- Remind them that you will love them no matter the diagnosis.
- Offer help in finding a qualified professional and making the appointment.
- Offer to go to the appointments with them.
If someone poses a danger to anyone, call 9-1-1 immediately. Although you may not see your loved one as someone who could hurt another person, schizophrenia can make people act in ways that are against their character. If your loved one is suicidal, you may also call 9-1-1 or take them to the nearest emergency room.
Schizophrenia Treatment Options
Each patient with schizophrenia responds differently to treatment options. As such, professionals must design personalized treatment plans that can include:
- Antipsychotic medications
- Individual therapy
- Social skills training
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Family therapy
- Social services like supported employment
- Electroconvulsive therapy
- Residential treatment
LifeStance Health can help provide patients and families with the support they need. Call a local therapy office today to get the compassionate care you and your loved one deserve.