Living With a Schizophrenic

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Sharing a home with someone who has schizophrenia is not easy--the disease takes an emotional toll on all those it touches, including the families and friends of people with the disorder. Living with someone with schizophrenia is difficult because of the disease's unpredictability, the stigma attached to it, the lack of social support available, and the pain that results from having a loved one fall ill.

While all schizophrenia symptoms present challenges, families of schizophrenics often find the negative symptoms some of the most difficult to deal with. Negative symptoms include a lack of energy, lack of purposeful activity, and unresponsiveness. Although these are actually symptoms of schizophrenia, it is easy to think of them as character flaws or purposeful attempts by the schizophrenic individual to annoy family members.

Living at home is not the best option for every schizophrenic. Those who have substance abuse disorders, resist taking medication, and have aggressive tendencies may do better with a different housing option. Schizophrenics are most successful living with family when they are high-functioning, have friendships and are involved in activities, and make use of support services available to them.

If you are living with a schizophrenic, there are a few things you can do to help make the situation successful. First, you should remember to take care of yourself--look after your mental health by joining a support group, making time for yourself, and maintaining other relationships. Encourage your loved one, support their treatment, and watch for the warning signs of relapse. Common warning signs include insomnia, social withdrawal, confusion, hostility, lack of personal hygiene, paranoia, and hallucinations. Stopping medication is frequently a cause of relapse, so helping with medication monitoring is a good idea. Because it is likely there will be times when relapse does occur, everyone will benefit from having a plan in place to deal with a crisis situation.