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How to Help a Loved One with Schizophrenia


Schizophrenia is defined via Oxford as a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation. The disorder impairs daily functioning and can be disabling. 

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia involves a range of problems with thinking, behavior, or emotions. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Hallucinations: Hallucinations typically involve seeing or hearing things that do not exist. For a person with schizophrenia, they have the impact of a normal experience. Hearing voices is the most common hallucination, but they can occur in any of the senses.
  • Delusions: Delusions are false beliefs not based in reality. Examples may include thinking that you are being harmed or harassed, a major catastrophe is about to occur, or you have exceptional ability or fame. Most people with schizophrenia experience delusions.
  • Disorganized/abnormal motor behavior: This can occur in many ways, such as childlike silliness or unpredictable agitation. Behavior can include strange or inappropriate posture, lack of response, resistance to instructions, or excessive movement.
  • Disorganized thinking (speech): Disorganized thinking is inferred from speech. Answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated. Effective communication can be impaired.
  • Negative symptoms: Negative symptoms refer to reduced or the lack of the ability to function normally, such as neglecting personal hygiene or lacking emotion. A person with schizophrenia may socially withdraw or lack the ability to experience pleasure.

How Can I Help Someone With Schizophrenia?

Caring for someone with schizophrenia can be difficult, as it can be hard to know how to respond to strange or clearly false statements. Supporting a loved one with schizophrenia begins with understanding that it is a biological illness. To help your loved one, get them treatment and encourage them to stay in treatment. Remember that their hallucinations seem very real to them. Be supportive without tolerating dangerous or inappropriate behavior. There is no cure for schizophrenia, but it can be treated and managed with psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy at Greenville Psychiatric Associates. 

Greenville Psychiatric Associates, PA

Greenville Psychiatric Associates is a locally owned and operated private practice that offers a wide range of outpatient treatments for mental health and substance use disorders. Established in the early 1970s, we have had the privilege of assisting numerous individuals to live a healthier and more fulfilled life. Our psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and licensed therapists offer well-rounded, evidence-based treatment approaches to target most mental health and substance use disorders. Our goal is for you to feel better about yourself and your life.