How to Help a Parent With Schizophrenia

Growing up with a mentally ill parent can be extremely challenging. Instead of enjoying a parent's consistent support and guidance, you may find yourself in the role of caretaker from a very young age. When you have a parent with schizophrenia, the situation is even more complex. Schizophrenia brings a unique set of obstacles to your day-to-day life. Balancing the role of caretaker with your own needs is critical to the long-term health of yourself and your loved one.

Taking the First Step

Whether your parent's schizophrenia is diagnosed early, or you live with the symptoms of your parent's illness for many years before medical intervention, the first step to helping your parent is to educate yourself. When you understand the symptoms of this condition, it is easier to separate your loved one from the effects of the illness, and you are in a better position to provide support when it comes to seeking treatment.

The symptoms of schizophrenia can be frightening, frustrating and everything in-between, whether you are experiencing them yourself or you are watching a loved one suffer. Some of the biggest signs of a serious problem include the following:

- Hallucinations ? If your loved on indicates that he or she is perceiving something that is not actually there, he or she may be hallucinating. These can impact any of the five senses, from hearing voices to seeing objects or beings that don't exist.

- Delusions ? While hallucinations are related to sensing something that isn't there, delusions are holding a set of beliefs that simply aren't real or possible. Delusions vary widely, such as believing that one's identity is something unusual, like a secret agent or an historical or religious figure.

Thought Disorders ? One of the most difficult symptoms to manage when a loved one has schizophrenia is the related thought disorders. Individuals may try to communicate using made-up words and languages, or they may use familiar words incorrectly.

Effective Treatments for Individuals With Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a grave condition that simply can't be managed properly without professional intervention. Instead of trying to care for your schizophrenic parent alone, consider seeking assistance from a specialized provider. These experts use a combination of treatments that have been proven effective for minimizing the symptoms of schizophrenia so that you can enjoy a more conventional parent/child relationship. Some of the most common treatments include the following:

Psychotherapy ? This is the traditional one-on-one approach that gives your parent space to express difficult emotions. A trained psychotherapist can offer your loved one support and counsel so that you aren't responsible for taking on this complex role.

Group Therapy ? Living with the effects of schizophrenia or managing the difficulties of having a parent with schizophrenia can be quite isolating. Group therapy gives each of you an opportunity to network with others, obtain support from individuals in similar situations and express emotions that might feel too strong or unmanageable to share in other forums.

Pharmaceutical Intervention? Medications to treat schizophrenia have come a long way in recent decades. There are more options, and ample research offers better guidance in combining drugs and choosing dosages for maximum effect. Unfortunately, many providers simply don't have the expertise necessary to fine-tune medications for best results. As a result, far too many patients are taking the wrong medications or are taking them in the wrong amount, which means they are missing out on many of their potential benefits. An experienced physician understands how various pharmaceuticals interact, and they have the patience to develop and revise treatment plans until your parent is on the best possible therapy.

If you are caring for a parent with schizophrenia, there are resources available to help you both. Contact Affinity, a leading residential treatment schizophrenia center near San Diego, California, for more information on support and treatment programs available to you and your loved one.