How do I help a schizophrenic relative

Psychoses> family

1. The most important things in a nutshell

Psychotic disorders often affect relatives in a special way. They have to take their own needs and abilities into account and practice dealing with the person concerned in a challenging daily manner.

2. Relatives of people with psychoses

In the case of psychotic disorders, the relatives are particularly affected. The diagnosis is a burden for the entire family environment. It is therefore advisable that the relatives also seek professional help for themselves. The patient should know about this so that he does not get the feeling that there is action behind his back.

3. Occurrence of the disease

The family often soon notices that something is wrong with the loved one, but the causes are more likely to be a change of heart or a temporary crisis. Years can pass before the diagnosis is made - and in the meantime friendships break apart and sometimes even the family.

For those affected, however, the disease can come on suddenly. Thinking and feeling, the perception of the body and the environment are disturbed and imperceptibly lead to the abandonment of familiar life paths. You may lose your job, drop out of your studies, have arguments with and break up with friends, relatives or life partners. The consequences are withdrawal from familiar surroundings and a lack of social contact.

4. Dealing with those affected

The following provides information for relatives on how to deal with psychosis patients. Their approach is taken from the "Blue Brochure": "It is normal to be different! Understanding and treating psychoses." Created in a dialogue between people who have experienced psychosis, relatives and therapists / scientists in the AG der Psychoseseminare (ed.). Download the brochure at www.irremenschlich.de> Download> Mediathek> Druck.

4.1. orientation

Psychosis can make the person concerned very insecure. Often he has the feeling of losing his own limits. Then it is essential for him to be able to orientate himself to the limits of his relatives and thereby gain security and stability.

Relatives should treat the person concerned with consideration and include them in everyday family life as naturally as possible. However, it does not make sense for the person concerned or for the relatives if they selflessly give up their own interests and habits and sacrifice themselves for the person concerned. As a result, orientation is made more difficult for everyone involved.

4.2. development

Patients with psychosis sometimes seek security in earlier stages of development. This presents relatives with a great challenge: on the one hand, they should react understandingly and respond to the child's needs, on the other hand it is also important to take the person concerned seriously as a person and to treat them according to their real level of development.

4.3. To be there

Psychosis can be accompanied by strong fears. These fears are clearly noticeable for relatives and can be transferred to them. That makes it difficult to give the person affected the things they need: composure, patience, confidence, security, calm, presence without demands and closeness without exceeding the boundaries of the person concerned. If relatives feel overwhelmed with this, you should get support.

4.4. Contact

Psychoses can result from or exacerbate social isolation. It is therefore particularly important that those affected maintain or establish contact with other people, even if this is difficult. They are often afraid of crossing borders, but also long for closeness. Relatives can be an important support in this conflict by conveying reliability and security. But loose contacts, e.g. with neighbors or acquaintances, can also be helpful, because such contacts are harmless for those affected and often cause them less difficulties.

4.5. Limits of understanding

Psychosis patients withdraw into a world to which others have no access. This is for self-protection, but also promotes loneliness. This creates a field of tension between the desire for closeness and the need for distance. Relatives can convey security by respecting the individual's characteristics and being understanding, even if they cannot always understand the behavior and thoughts.

5. Self-help, advice, exchange

Help is provided by self-help groups for relatives, local advice centers, psychiatric clinics, social psychiatric services, health authorities and adult education centers. In the groups, relatives can exchange ideas, discuss their problems with other relatives or with specialists such as doctors, psychologists or social workers and look for better coping strategies. As a result, relatives are relieved and find more calm and serenity in dealing with the patient.

Links to addresses for self-help groups and counseling centers under Psychoses> Addresses.

A special form are "trialogic" information, education and exchange projects. There are three groups involved: relatives, professionals and those with experience of psychosis. More information under Psychoses> Treatment. Addresses can be found e.g. at www.irremenschlich.de.

6. Caring for children with schizophrenia in one of the parents

Under the following links you will find general help and relief options for childcare:

7. Related links

Counselor psychoses

Integration assistance for mentally handicapped children and young people

Integration assistance for people with disabilities

Personal budget

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Psychoses> Dealing with psychoses