Thursday, December 11, 2008

Do's and Don'ts in Handling Schizophrenic Episodes

Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder that causes imbalances in the brain chemicals. These imbalances can lend themselves into excessive paranoia and nonexistent fears which can make it difficult for a patient to determine what is real and not. While it is difficult for the patient to live with the disorder, it is also difficult for his caregivers. His family and friends constantly live with the dread that their loved one will end up dead or hurting another person under the influence of a schizophrenic episode.

If you live with a schizophrenic person or are a family to one, here are some tips on handling schizophrenic episodes that can help you keep your loved one – as well as other persons – safe from harm:


1.Do watch out for signs of an impending episode.

Schizophrenic episodes do not happen instantly. They are usually the culmination of a long-standing, imagined affair or paranoia. Watch out for signs like sleeplessness, ritualistic obsessions, and increased suspiciousness. As much as possible, encourage the patient to take his medicines regularly which you can keep in stock by buying from a discount pharmacy.

2.Do contact the patient's doctor or the nearest hospital.

When under the influence of a full-blown episode, strong doses of medication and sedative are often needed to calm the patient. He may also seem to possess increased strength due to the adrenalin in his or her system that a medical team is necessary to subdue him. When necessary, you can also contact the police but request that they keep guns out of sight since this might provoke your loved one more.

3.Do play along with the hallucination when reasonable.

Understand that the patient is experiencing an altered reality; he may be hearing or seeing things that you couldn't. Stay calm throughout the ordeal and play along with whatever hallucination he is having as long as it is still within your reasonable abilities. If he asks you to climb a chair or desk because “the pipes burst and are flooding the whole house,” do so. It'll help him feel in control of the situation regardless if it is only imagined.


1.Don't scream and panic.

Screaming and panicking will only agitate the patient more and may result in untoward accidents. Try to stay calm and speak in a gentle soothing voice in order to reach into the turmoil inside the person's head. If you are afraid, call someone to stay with you but never let kids into the room.

2.Don't threaten and bait the patient.

Never patronize a schizophrenic person who is having an episode. Avoid threatening the patient as this can result in a renewed fear and assaultive behavior. It is also unwise to bait the patient into doing what he is threatening to do since this may result in irascible behavior on his part and push him into acting out his threat. It is also necessary that you don't appear to be a threat. If the patient is sitting, you should also take a seat as standing may give the impression that there is a power play going on.

3.Don't let the patient out of sight or out of the door.

As tempting as it is to just walk out and leave the patient alone, don't. He is not in control of his behavior which may result in him hurting himself or another person. To the best of your ability, keep the patient away from the door while keeping it open. Closing the door may give the patient the impression that you are locking him in which can result in violent behavior. But if push comes to shove, remember that you are also responsible for your personal safety. Flee and lock the door if you have to until the medical team and the authorities arrived.

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Kristine Anne Gonzaga is a content writer and researcher who specializes in health topics and health-related issues. She delights in finding tips and ideas on simple and practical health care and sharing them through her writing.

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