Schizophrenia and Self Help

While medical intervention and long term care are a necessity for those who are living with schizophrenia, there are things they have to be able to do in order to steer their own destiny. It can be very difficult to get over the initial diagnosis and go on to lead a productive and fairly normal life. The first psychotic break and subsequent episodes can be very frightening for the person with schizophrenia and also those close to him/her. However, a strong support system and understanding of the illness itself can make life easier to handle for everyone involved.

Staying in treatment

Quite often, delusions are a part of the initial psychosis for an individual with schizophrenia. As a result, s/he may not trust those who love him/her. S/he may be convinced people are conspiring against him/her. S/he may also have hallucinations which further fracture his/her ability to function in society. S/he may also have a difficult time staying motivated and grounded in the logical world around him/her. With proper treatment and understanding, the individual with schizophrenia can overcome these symptoms and gain back some degree of control over his/her life.

The best self help tool for a schizophrenic is to maintain open communication and trust in the medical professionals treating him/her. This may require a day by day approach until proper and effective medication is determined. The desire to stick to a treatment plan, including medication and possibly therapy, is essential to successfully living with schizophrenia.

Surrounding oneself with trusted family and friends

In their personal lives, it is important for schizophrenics to surround themselves with people they can trust to guide them and help them navigate the mental illness. Whether it is a small circle of friends or a spouse or close family member, these trusted individuals need to know the signs of psychosis and the current treatment plan for their loved one. They can help the patient realize when they are hallucinating rather than experiencing something which is real. They can even provide guidance with regards to social interactions. It is vital they know the signs of relapse in order to ensure the patient gets all the help s/he needs.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

It is important for someone with schizophrenia to maintain a healthy lifestyle in all respects. Those who engage in regular exercise and healthy eating habits can decrease the risk of future psychotic episodes. Personal hygiene can be difficult for a schizophrenic. Re-training oneself to care for his/her body is important. His/her personal support system can also help him/her maintain good hygiene.

Keeping socially active

One very important and seemingly simple aspect of self help for schizophrenics is the continuance of a social life. Staying involved with the community, participating in social activities, and learning how to manage daily life stresses in a healthy way, just as those who do not have a mental illness must do, can go a long way towards leading a normal life again. Taking these steps can help keep psychotic episodes at bay and help the schizophrenic individual remain an active and productive part of society.

written by Dr. Cheryl Lane, PsyD

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