Many people with schizophrenia return to live with their family, at least temporarily, after they leave the hospital. If this is not possible, there are several other options, such as shared accommodation, a group home or supervised housing. Supervised housing provides a degree of independence, while ensuring that the patient continues to receive support and maintenance.
Many people with schizophrenia can continue to work, even if they have symptoms. Work is an important part of rehabilitation. Your doctor will advise you when it is time for you to think about going back to work.
You may be worried that your children will inherit a risk of developing schizophrenia from you. It is known that people who have close relatives with schizophrenia have a higher risk of developing the condition than those who do not but this does not necessarily mean that your children will develop the illness.
Childcare can be a difficult task for many parents with schizophrenia. Family, friends and social services can provide support when you need it. Have a plan in place to help when/if you need it. Make a list of phone numbers of close friends, relatives or social services contacts you can call if you need temporary help with childcare.
The risks of taking antipsychotic medicines during pregnancy are not known. If you are, or are planning to become, pregnant or if you are breastfeeding, you should talk to your doctor. He/she may wish to make changes to your medicines and he/she will closely monitor your health and that of your baby.
MINIMISING THE RISK OF SUICIDE
Around 1 in 10 people with schizophrenia commit suicide. The risk is greatest during the first five years of illness; after this, the risk drops significantly. The most important thing to remember is that suicidal thoughts are temporary and can be treated. Make a list of phone numbers of close friends, relatives or healthcare providers and support lines you can call when/if you are having trouble. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get help as soon as you start having these thoughts – don’t wait for them to become unbearable.
If you have a friend or relative with schizophrenia, there are some precautions you can take to minimise the risk of them committing suicide. Listen to their concerns and be aware of their symptoms. If they start talking about suicide or begin to harm themselves in any way, make sure that they receive medical attention straight away.
DEALING WITH DENIAL
Some people with schizophrenia are unable to accept that they have an illness and are therefore unwilling to take medicines. Medicines can help to control the symptoms of schizophrenia and it is important that you take your medicines as recommended by your doctor. When a loved one is diagnosed with schizophrenia, many people find it hard to accept the diagnosis. This can cause even greater upset within the family and delay the start of a treatment programme. Providing the families of people with schizophrenia with support and information about the illness and its treatment can help them to come to terms with a loved one’s illness.