Supporting Your Loved One During Treatment for Schizophrenia
Medicine is a very helpful part of treatment for schizophrenia. Most people experience benefits from medicine including reduced symptoms and improved mood. It can be challenging to take medicine, and for some it can be hard to accept that medicine is needed. Here are some ways to support your loved one who is taking medicine as part of their treatment for schizophrenia:
Discuss the reasons/goals that are most important for your loved one. Talk about medicines in a way that is personally meaningful. For example, if your loved one is having difficulty remembering how medicines can be helpful, you can point out the reasons they have been important by saying "You have said that your medicines help quiet the voices you hear," or "I have seen that when you take medicines, you are better able to study and keep your grades up." In this way, you link taking the medicines with things the person enjoys.
Get support from the treatment team. If you need help encouraging your family member to take prescribed medicines, talk with their treatment team. The team can tell you about the expected results of taking medicines, what side effects to look for, and good ways to manage side effects.
Help your loved one overcome the challenges of using medicine. Some people have trouble remembering to take their medicines. Others may have some trouble managing everyday tasks of taking medicine such as getting refills or talking with a doctor about side effects. Ask how your loved one is doing with their medicine and if there are things you can do to help them keep to their medicine schedule. Talk with your loved one about any their side effects. Take any complaints seriously and see whether there is anything that you can do to help or that can be done differently.
Understand that using medicine for schizophrenia is a complicated issue. Some people will not take medicine as they should even with a lot of support. Do not tie your concern and caring to whether your loved one takes their medicine. For those who won't or are unable to take daily medicines, injections may be a good option. Discuss this with your loved one and their treatment team to see if injections may be a good option.
Make a plan. Have a plan for relapses even if your loved one continues to take the medicines as prescribed. Relapses are part of the illness.
If your loved one talks about stopping their medicines, listen. Many people, especially young people, may want to try to manage their symptoms without medicine. This may make you feel frightened or apprehensive. Have discussions with your loved one about this and express your feelings. Along with your loved one, talk with the treatment team about the options. Make changes in the medicine routine only after consulting with the team. And keep records about these changes and their effects. Make a list of signs that things are going well without medicine, as well as signs that things are not going well and when medicine should be reconsidered.
Author: StayWell Custom Communications
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