How To Communicate With Someone With Schizophrenia
Communication is crucial in every relationship, which is why understanding how to communicate with someone with Schizophrenia is so important. It can be challenging to talk with those dealing with mental illness, but it can also help them feel validated and heard if the conversation is handled correctly. In this blog post, we will discuss some facts about Schizophrenia and tips for communicating with someone with Schizophrenia. Stay tuned!
A Brief Description of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a complex mental condition in which individuals view reality strangely. This serious mental disorder may result in hallucinations, delusions, and profoundly disorganized thought and behavior that limit everyday functioning and can be impairing.
Schizophrenia treatment is lifelong. Early treatment may help get the symptoms under control before more serious problems arise and positively affect the long-term outlook.
It’s not clear why some individuals suffer Schizophrenia and its symptoms.
Some elements appear to contribute to Schizophrenia’s development and progression. These things are:
Genetic factors: Although no one gene mutation causes Schizophrenia, those who have a close, genetically linked relative with Schizophrenia are at least 6 times more likely to acquire it.
Changes in the brain’s chemistry, structure, and function. This could mean, for example, that neurotransmitters like glutamate and dopamine, which help brain cells talk to each other, aren’t working as they should or are in abnormal amounts. It could also mean that different brain parts connect or work together in different ways.
Environmental factors include things like being exposed to malnutrition or viruses before birth, having an autoimmune disease, or living in poverty or stressful situations.
Use or abuse of drugs: This could include, for example, using drugs that change your mind when you’re a teen or young adult.
Positive Schizophrenia Symptoms
Positive symptoms are ideas, thoughts, or actions that are way out of proportion and show that the person can’t tell what’s real and what’s not. Here, “positive” denotes the existence of symptoms. Some of them are:
Hallucinations. People with Schizophrenia might hear, see, smell, or feel things that no one else does. Some kinds of hallucinations that people with Schizophrenia have are:
- Auditory. Most of the time, the person hears voices inside their head. They might be angry or in a hurry and tell them what to do. It can sound like one or many voices. They could whisper, murmur, or be angry and demanding.
- Visual. Someone might see lights, things, people, or patterns. Most of the time, it’s loved ones or friends who have passed away. They may also have trouble telling the distinction between close and far.
- Aromatic and gustatory. This can include smells and tastes that are both good and bad. Someone might not eat because they think they are being poisoned.
- Tactile. This makes you feel like hands or insects are moving on your body.
Delusional thinking is characterized by focusing on mistaken ideas despite “reasonable” evidence to the contrary.
If you tell a loved one they’re wrong; it could make it hard for you to talk to them.
Instead, acknowledge their beliefs and fears and ask them questions. This might help your loved ones come to their conclusions.
Negative Schizophrenia Symptoms
Negative symptoms are acts that people with Schizophrenia may struggle with compared to others, such as expressing emotions, communicating, and accomplishing daily chores.
The following are common negative symptoms of Schizophrenia:
- being socially aloof and speaking less or having difficulty communicating
- difficulty expressing emotions, which may manifest as a blank, unchanging, or flat facial expression
- a monotonous voice, weak eye contact
- a lack of motivation, such as a decline or loss of the capacity to initiate and maintain plans.
- Anhedonia or the inability to express or experience pleasure
- diminished or no interest in life,
- difficulty maintaining relationships,
- poor personal hygiene, and
- attention deficits
Negative symptoms of Schizophrenia may be either primary or secondary. Primary negative symptoms are those that pertain to the real pathophysiology of the illness. Secondary negative symptoms are those connected with environmental variables, medical therapy, or co-occurring illnesses.
The symptoms of Schizophrenia in teens are the same as those in adults; however, the disorder may be more difficult to detect. This could be because some of the first signs of Schizophrenia in teenagers are also signs of normal teen development, such as:
- Getting away from family and friends
- A drop in school performance
- Trouble sleeping
- a bad mood or irritability
- Absence of motivation
Also, using drugs like marijuana, methamphetamines, or LSD for fun can cause some of the same signs and symptoms.
Compared to the signs of Schizophrenia in adults, they may:
- less likely to experience hallucinations
- More likely to experience visual hallucinations
What do people with Schizophrenia do all day?
They may not get up out of their seats for hours. Having to deal with these symptoms may make it difficult for someone with Schizophrenia to maintain employment, build meaningful relationships, carry out daily tasks, and express varied feelings, actions, and attitudes.
What is it like talking to someone with Schizophrenia?
A person with Schizophrenia may not answer as we would expect in a ‘regular’ discussion. Your statements may be answered with silence or a monosyllabic reply. In certain cases, a person may indicate interest in your topic, but their expression and tone may not match.
Communication Barriers with Schizophrenia
A person with Schizophrenia isn’t in touch with reality, so it can be hard for them to explain what they think and feel. Due to the above problems with language processing and communication, they may also find it hard to understand or process information.
As we’ve already talked about, someone with Schizophrenia might also have strange thoughts or beliefs, which can be hard to understand. They might even forget parts of the conversation because psychosis makes it hard to remember things.
What Can I Say to a Family Member with Schizophrenia?
The first thing to remember is that the person you love has an illness, not a character defect.
They are not crazy (a word that shouldn’t be used anyway) or crazy-making. In fact, if you’ve ever had any mental illness yourself, odds are you’ve been called crazy at least once in your life—but that doesn’t make it true, and that’s not how people with mental illnesses think of themselves.
There are some things you can say that will help your family members feel understood and cared for. Try saying something like:
“I love you and want to understand what you’re going through.” “I don’t know everything about your diagnosis, but I’m willing to learn more if you want to teach me.” “How can I help you right now?”
Another important thing is actually to ask how they’re doing and then listen. If they open up, try to avoid saying things that might come off as judgmental. A person with Schizophrenia has enough judgments against them from society as it is. It’s unhelpful when one of the people closest to them starts questioning their motivations or their choices, even if those questions come from a place of well-meaning concern.
What Should I Never Say to a Person who suffers Schizophrenia?
Don’t make statements like, “Why are you acting so crazy?
Some hurtful and just plain rude names to avoid calling someone with Schizophrenia are crazy, cuckoo, nuts, and basket case. People have a lot of wrong ideas about what people with Schizophrenia do and how they act because of movies and TV shows. People with Schizophrenia are often shown in the media to be crazy, violent, or aggressive. This is done to make people laugh. In reality, they have mental health problems.
If you’re talking to someone with Schizophrenia, don’t use hurtful or insulting words. You do not want to hurt their feelings or make them feel bad about their condition.
Avoid bringing up their fears during an episode.
If someone you care about has a spider phobia attack, don’t talk about spiders. This will make them even more scared and panicked than they already are.
Please don’t Attempt to Convince Them That Their Delusions Are Unreal.
Trying to convince a person with Schizophrenia that their delusions aren’t real is one of the worst things you can do to them. People with Schizophrenia often have delusions, and it can be tempting to try to tell them that what they’re seeing isn’t real. But you can’t talk someone out of these kinds of thoughts, and trying to do so might make them feel more scared or upset.
Although there are numerous things not to mention to someone with Schizophrenia, everyone is unique. Another great way to help someone you care about is to urge them to get treatment for Schizophrenia.
How to Communicate Effectively
- Use short, clear sentences and a calm, non-threatening voice tone.
- Recognize how the person feels about their beliefs and experiences.
- Validate the person’s own feelings of anger or sadness, as well as the good things that happened to them.
- Listen to how the person talks about and makes sense of their experiences.
- Do not say anything about the person’s thoughts and experiences with which you disagree.
- Please do not argue, challenge, or contest someone about what they think or what they’ve done.
- Accept if the individual does not want to talk to you, but be there if they change their mind.
- Be respectful
- Be aware that the person may be afraid of what is happening to them.
Does schizophrenia get worse as you get older?
Schizophrenia is a long-term disorder that can get worse or better over time, but it doesn’t usually get worse with age. Some people’s schizophrenia symptoms get better over time, while others’ symptoms stay the same or get worse.
When to Seek Medical Attention
People with Schizophrenia have to go to the hospital sometimes. This can happen for a number of reasons, including severe symptoms.
You might need to visit the hospital if:
- You’re having an episode of psychosis. This means that you can’t tell which things are real and which ones aren’t.
- You talk about killing yourself or hurting other people.
- You have very bad side effects from your medicine, like tardive dyskinesia.
- It would be best if you did specific tests.
- Your medicines need to be changed or adjusted.
- You have trouble with alcohol or drugs.
- You need a special type of medical treatment, like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
The doctors will strive to get you back to your family and community quickly.
How Empire Psychiatry can help if you or a relative has a mental illness or co-occurring problem.
We understand that getting help for a mental illness can be difficult, but at Empire Psychiatry, we are here to make it as easy as possible. Oftentimes, people with Schizophrenia have a hard time getting the proper treatment because they don’t have the resources or don’t know where to turn. We know how disheartening it can be when you need help and there’s nowhere to go. At Empire Psychiatry, we’re committed to helping you get the medication management that you need, whether you’re in New York City or any other part of the country.
We understand that it can be scary to seek medication management for Schizophrenia because of the stigma that surrounds it—it’s often shrouded in mystery and not talked about openly. That’s why our staff is dedicated to making your experience at Empire psychiatry one that is comfortable and allows you to feel at ease in the future.
We pride ourselves on being a non-judgmental environment where you can feel safe enough to open up about your symptoms and concerns so we can help you find ways of coping with them effectively.
Schizophrenia can be a difficult illness to understand and communicate with someone who has it. However, there are some ways you can help make the communication process easier. Remember to keep things simple, clear, and consistent. Be patient and understanding, and most importantly, be respectful. If you need more help in communicating with someone with Schizophrenia, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Empire Psychiatry for help- our team is here for you! To get started, schedule now and we’ll contact you shortly with follow-up information.