Diagnosis of Schizophrenia
When an individual is first diagnosed with schizophrenia or psychosis its common for families, friends and caregivers to experience a wide range of emotions which can include concern over the stigma associated with sharing a diagnosis of a mental illness, also a sense of grief due to feeling as though you have lost the person you once knew. Accepting the diagnosis of schizophrenia will make re-stabilizing your lives easier. When a family member or friend is diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychosis, it may help to:
- Acknowledge the illness and recognize the impact it will have on you and your family. Living with any illness may change day-to-day lives for all family members. While adjusting to schizophrenia may take some time, it is still very possible for people with schizophrenia and their families to lead full and enriching lives.
- Have hope for recovery. Many people can and do recover from schizophrenia and psychosis and are able to attain a quality of life that is meaningful to them. While recovery means different things to different people, it is generally understood as an on-going journey that involves controlling the symptoms of schizophrenia and psychosis, maintaining independence, having friends and social support all while sustaining one’s ideal quality of life.
- Learn more about schizophrenia and psychosis. Understanding these illnesses will help everyone in
- your circle of care. SSO is here to help and there are other organizations and online resources designed to increase awareness of schizophrenia and psychosis which can be found here.
- Create a plan. Many people who are given a diagnosis of schizophrenia will have more than one episode of psychosis in their lifetime. When the symptoms reoccur or worsen, this is a relapse. Developing a relapse plan can help minimize the disruption of a crisis and maximize long-term recovery for your loved one. A relapse plan generally includes how to respond to the early warning signs of declining mental health, contacts for professional crisis intervention, a list of people that can be counted on and the needs of your loved one.
- Share the responsibility of caregiving. Talk to people you trust about your caregiving responsibilities and develop a plan that allows members of your family or support system to take on different tasks.
- It’s ok to ask for help. Reach out to local support groups or connect with them online.
- Talk about it. Part of dealing with schizophrenia and psychosis is dealing with the stigma associated with mental health issues. Talking about schizophrenia and mental health issues on a regular basis can help everyone involved to normalize them and can prevent anyone feeling as though they need to keep schizophrenia a ‘secret.’ Disclosing it is actually quite helpful and sharing your situation can be beneficial not just for you but for others in a similar situation.
- SSO is here to help. We provide families with supportive counselling, system navigation as well as developing recovery, self-care and relapse plans.
Keep balance in your life. There's more to you and your family member than schizophrenia. Support groups
can help in finding and keeping this balance and helping you to build a community to assist you and your family.