What happens during a psychotic episode for people with schizophrenia?ANSWER
If someone you love has schizophrenia, knowing when to call the doctor isn’t always easy -- and you can’t rely on your loved one to let you know he needs help.
During a psychotic episode, he may not know the difference between what’s real and what isn’t. He could see and hear things that aren’t there (hallucinations) or believe something is controlling his thoughts (delusions). He might even think that you’re plotting against him.
This can be scary and upsetting. That said, stay calm, trust your intuition, and remember that professional help is within reach.
When should someone with schizophrenia call their doctor?ANSWER
When should someone with schizophrenia call 911?ANSWER
When should someone call the police for someone who has schizophrenia?ANSWER
Most people with schizophrenia are not violent. However, as you would in any other situation, if you’re scared for your safety, immediately call 911 and ask the dispatcher for the police.
Tell them that your loved one is psychotic, and explain you need help controlling his behavior and getting him medical treatment. Ask the police not to show any weapons when they arrive so they don’t alarm him more.
If possible, someone should stay with you while you wait. You should also call his doctor right away.
No matter what, remember that you and your loved one deserve to get the help you need quickly, so you can get back on track with his wellness plan.
How is schizophrenia treated?ANSWER
If you have a loved one with schizophrenia, you want them to get help as quickly as possible. Medication is key, along with other types of care, such as psychotherapy, which is a kind of talk therapy, and social skills training.
That said, you have to be sure your family member takes his medication -- and that’s not always easy.
How do antipsychotics work to treat schizophrenia?ANSWER
The medications doctors prescribe most often for schizophrenia are called antipsychotics. They ease symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.
These drugs work on chemicals in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin.
What are the different types of antipsychotic medication for schizophrenia?ANSWER
There are two groups of antipsychotics. Doctors call the older group of medications “first-generation,” “typical,” or “conventional” antipsychotics. Some common ones are:
The newer ones are called “second-generation,” or “atypical” antipsychotics. Examples of these medicines include:
What are the side effects of antipsychotics for schizophrenia?ANSWER
While the first-generation, older meds usually cost less, they can have different side effects than the newer antipsychotics. Some can cause higher levels of the hormone prolactin. This can affect sex drive, mood, menstrual cycles, and growth of breast tissue in both men and women.
One of the common side effects of newer antipsychotics is weight gain. Your loved one may also have trouble keeping his blood sugar and cholesterol levels under control.
One of the more serious side effects from long-term use of both the older and newer medications is a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia. It makes your facial, tongue, and neck muscles move uncontrollably and can be permanent.
While both older and newer antipsychotics can cause tardive dyskinesia, researchers believe that the odds are much higher with the older antipsychotics.
Antipsychotics come with other side effects as well. Your loved one could have any of the following:
How should you provide support for someone taking medications for schizophrenia?ANSWER
Schizophrenia can make it hard to stick to a medication plan. Your loved one will need a strong support system.
Learn as much as you can about schizophrenia and be part of the decision-making process with your loved one’s doctor. Surrounding him with people who care about his well-being is also key.
When he starts to take his medication, he may feel better right away -- but it may take up to 4 to 6 weeks before symptoms like hallucinations and delusions get better.
Be sure he keeps taking it long enough for his doctor to know if it’s working. Sometimes it can take several tries to find out which medication works best.
What should you do when someone you love has schizophrenia?ANSWER
Giving support to a family member or friend with schizophrenia means helping them get the medical and psychological treatment they need. But it also means taking care of yourself at the same time. Use these 10 ideas to create an action plan that works for both of you:
How can learning how to respond help someone you love with schizophrenia?ANSWER
When someone with schizophrenia has hallucinations or delusions, they believe they're real. It doesn’t help to tell them they’re not. Instead, tell them that you each see things in your own way. Be respectful, kind, and supportive. Call a doctor if needed. If they're acting out hallucinations, stay calm and call 911. While you wait for paramedics, don’t argue, shout, criticize, threaten, block the doorway, touch them, or stand over them. Also, avoid direct eye contact.
How can being ready to respond help someone you love with schizophrenia?ANSWER
If a person with schizophrenia has a psychotic episode, which means their hallucinations or delusions become a lot worse and more severe, you need to size up the situation quickly and decide who to call. If another person is available, ask them to stay with your loved one while you contact the doctor or 911. If your loved one threatens suicide, don’t leave them alone. If their behavior becomes dangerous, immediately call 911 and ask for the police. Tell them your loved one has schizophrenia and explain the situation, but let the police handle it. Police are trained to evaluate and manage people with psychotic disorders and other types of emotional distress.
How can knowing the signs of suicide help someone you love with schizophrenia?ANSWER
Most people with schizophrenia are harmless to others. They’re more likely to hurt themselves than anybody else. Sometimes that includes trying to take their own life. You should take any suicidal talk seriously, and pay attention to poems, notes, or any other things your loved one creates that are about death. Also, be suspicious if they suddenly go from depressed to cheerful. This change could mean they're thinking about suicide. For help on the spot, call your doctor and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
How can staying in touch help someone you love with schizophrenia?ANSWER
When a person with schizophrenia feels alone, their suicidal thoughts may increase. If you don’t live close by, you can help by staying in touch via telephone, text, email, and mail. Sending short notes like postcards and greeting cards can remind them how much you care.
How is cognitive enhancement therapy used to treat schizophrenia?ANSWER
Cognitive enhancement therapy (CET) is also called cognitive remediation. It teaches people how to better recognize social cues, or triggers, and improve their attention, memory, and ability to organize their thoughts. It combines computer-based brain training and group sessions.
How is cognitive behavioral therapy used to treat schizophrenia?ANSWER
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can help teach your loved one to change their thinking and behavior. A therapist will show them ways to deal with "voices" and hallucinations. With a combination of CBT sessions and medication, they can eventually tell what triggers their psychotic episodes (times when hallucinations or delusions flare up) and how to reduce or stop them.
How is social skills training used to treat schizophrenia?ANSWER
This type of instruction focuses on improving your loved one’s communication and social interactions.
How is rehabilitation used to treat schizophrenia?ANSWER
Schizophrenia usually develops during the years we are building our careers. So rehabilitation may include job counseling, problem-solving support, and education in money management.
What drugs can cause schizophrenia?ANSWER
Studies show that taking certain mind-altering drugs called psychoactive or psychotropic drugs, such as methamphetamines or LSD, can make schizophrenia more likely. Some research has shown that marijuana use has a similar risk. The younger you start and the more often you use these drugs, the more likely you are to have symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, inappropriate emotions, and trouble thinking clearly.
How does your brain change if you have schizophrenia?ANSWER
Are there different types of schizophrenia?ANSWER
Doctors who specialize in mental health used to divide schizophrenia into different subtypes. But that system didn’t work well. Now, experts talk about schizophrenia as a spectrum disorder. It's a group of related mental disorders that share some symptoms. They're like variations on a theme in music. They affect your sense of what's real. They change how you think, feel, and act. The main disorder is schizophrenia. It includes all the previous subtypes: catatonic, disorganized, paranoid, residual, and undifferentiated. It's a psychosis, which means that what seems real to you isn't.
How is schizophrenia categorized?ANSWER
Doctors may categorize your schizophrenia according to your main symptom to make a diagnosis clearer. But rather than saying you have "paranoid schizophrenia," they would say you have "schizophrenia with paranoia,” for example.
What makes schizophrenia different from other similar disorders?ANSWER
What makes schizophrenia different from some similar disorders in the spectrum is how long you've had symptoms and whether you also have signs of a mood disorder.
How is schizophreniform related to schizophrenia?ANSWER
When you've had psychotic symptoms for at least a month but less than six months, doctors call it schizophreniform. Many people with this disorder go on to have schizophrenia. In other words, schizophreniform is often early schizophrenia. But for about one-third of people, the symptoms just go away.
How is schizoaffective disorder related to schizophrenia?ANSWER
With schizoaffective disorder, you'll have a combination of psychotic symptoms along with depression (major depressive disorder) or bipolar disorder. You could feel very down, or swing between super high-energy or highly irritable and very low, too. In schizoaffective disorder, the psychotic symptoms have to sometimes happen even when your mood is okay. This is a rare, serious, lifelong illness.
How do you know if you have schizophrenia?ANSWER
People with schizophrenia usually aren't aware that they have it until a doctor or counselor diagnoses them. In fact, chances are they won't even realize that something is seriously wrong. If they do happen to notice symptoms, like not being able to think straight, they might chalk it up to things like stress or being tired.
If you're concerned that you or someone you know is showing signs of schizophrenia, talk to a doctor or counselor.
How can you have hallucinations if you have schizophrenia?ANSWER
The hallucinations you experience due to schizophrenia occur in addition to normal behavior. Doctors may call these “positive" symptoms, but that doesn’t mean that they’re good. Schizophrenics might hear, see, smell, or feel things no one else does. Most often, they'll hear voices in their heads. These imaginary voices might tell them what to do, warn them of danger, or say mean things to them. The voices even might talk to each other.
How can you have delusions if you have schizophrenia?ANSWER
Delusions are beliefs that seem strange to most people and are easy to prove wrong. The person affected might think someone is trying to control his or her brain through TVs or that the FBI is out to get them. Schizophrenics might believe they're someone else, like a famous actor or the president, or that they have superpowers.
How can you have confused thoughts and speech if you have schizophrenia?
People with schizophrenia can have a hard time organizing their thoughts. They might not be able to follow along when you talk to them. Instead, it might seem like they're zoning out or distracted. When they talk, their words can come out jumbled and nonsensically.
How can you have trouble concentrating if you have schizophrenia?ANSWER
Issues regarding concentration are a hallmark of schizophrenia. For example, a schizophrenic might lose track of what's going on in a TV show as he or she watches.
How does schizophrenia affect movement?ANSWER
Some people with schizophrenia can seem jumpy. Sometimes, they'll make the same movements over and over again -- and sometimes they might be perfectly still for hours at a stretch, which experts call being catatonic. Contrary to popular belief, people with the disease usually aren't violent
What are negative symptoms in schizophrenia?ANSWER
Someone with schizophrenia may lose interest in some things or not be able to do them anymore. These symptoms can be hard to spot, especially in teens, because even healthy teens can have big emotional swings between highs and lows.
Depression has some of the same symptoms as well.
How can schizophrenics seem emotionless?ANSWER
A person with schizophrenia might seem like he or she has a terrible case of the blahs. The person might not talk much or show any feelings -- and when he or she does talk, the voice can sound flat and emotionless. Doctors call this a "flat affect."
How does schizophrenia cause social withdrawal?ANSWER
Someone who has schizophrenia might stop making plans with you or become a hermit. Talking with the person can feel like pulling teeth: If you want an answer to a question, you have to really work to get it.
What other negative symptoms can happen if you have schizophrenia?ANSWER
Schizophrenics often find themselves struggling with the basics of daily life. They may stop bathing or taking care of themselves.
People with schizophrenia also have trouble staying on schedule or finishing what they start. Sometimes they can't get started at all.
What are cognitive symptoms in schizophrenia?ANSWER
Cognitive symptoms refer to how well your brain learns, stores, and uses information.
Someone with schizophrenia might have a hard time with working memory. For example,he may not be able to keep track of different kinds of facts at the same time, like a phone number plus instructions.
Along with having trouble paying attention, it can be hard forschizophrenics to organize their thoughts and make decisions.
How do doctors diagnose schizophrenia?ANSWER
There’s no simple test to find out if someone you love has schizophrenia. It’s a severe mental illness that is very hard to diagnose. It affects the way a person thinks, processes emotions, maintains relationships, and makes decisions.
It’s especially hard to diagnose in teenagers because many of the first signs of schizophrenia in young people, such as bad grades, sleeping too much, or withdrawal from friends, can at first seem like typical problems. However, schizophrenia is much more than that
What will the doctor do to diagnose schizophrenia?ANSWER
The first thing your doctor will want to do is perform a psychological evaluation and a complete medical exam. This will allow the doctor or specialist to track your loved one’s symptoms over about six months to rule out other possible conditions, such as bipolar disorder, and other possible causes.
The doctor may also want to do a blood test to make sure that alcohol or drug abuse isn’t causing the symptoms. A test that scans the body and brain, such as an MRI or CT scan, might also help eliminate other problems, like a brain tumor.
What is the outlook for schizophrenia?ANSWER
Getting the diagnosis as early as possible will improve your loved one’s chances of managing the illness. If he gets the proper care, which will probably include medication and psychotherapy, a kind of talk therapy, he is likely to do better.
What is delusional disorder?ANSWER
Delusional disorder, previously called paranoid disorder, is a type of serious mental illness in which a person cannot separate the real from the imagined. The main feature of this disorder is the presence of delusions, unshakable beliefs in something untrue or not based on reality. People with delusional disorder also generally experience delusions involving situations that could occur in real life, such as being followed, poisoned, deceived, conspired against, or loved from a distance.
What is grandiose delusional disorder?ANSWER
A person with grandiose delusional disorder has an over-inflated sense of worth, power, knowledge, or identity. The person might believe he or she has a great talent or has made an important discovery.
What is jealous delusional disorder?ANSWER
A person with jealous delusional disorder believes that his or her spouse or sexual partner is unfaithful.
What is persecutory delusional disorder?ANSWER
People with persecutory delusional disorder believe that they (or someone close to them) are being mistreated, or that someone is spying on them or planning to harm them. It is not uncommon for people with this type of delusional disorder to make repeated complaints to legal authorities.
What is somatic delusional disorder?ANSWER
A person with somatic delusional disorder believes that he or she has a physical defect or medical problem.
What is mixed delusional disorder?ANSWER
People with mixed delusional disorder have two or more other types of delusional disorder.
Is delusional disorder hereditary?ANSWER
The fact that delusional disorder is more common in people who have family members with delusional disorder or schizophrenia suggests that genetic factors may be involved. It is believed that, as with other mental disorders, a tendency to develop delusional disorder might be passed on from parents to their children.
How do doctors diagnose delusional disorder?ANSWER
If you present symptoms of delusional disorder, your doctor will likely perform a complete medical history and physical exam. Although there are no lab tests to specifically diagnose delusional disorder, the doctor might use various diagnostic tests, such as imaging studies or blood tests, to rule out physical illness as the cause of your symptoms.
What are some complications associated with delusional disorder?ANSWER
People with delusional disorder might become depressed, often as the result of difficulties associated with the delusions. Acting on the delusions also can lead to violence or legal problems; for example, a person with an erotomanic delusion who stalks or harasses the object of his or her delusion, could lead to arrest.
Furthermore, people with this disorder can eventually become alienated from others, especially if their delusions interfere with or damage personal relationships.
What are psychotic disorders? ANSWER Psychotic disorders are a group of serious illnesses that affect the mind. They make it hard for someone to think clearly, make good judgments, respond emotionally, communicate effectively, understand reality, and behave appropriately.