How can I help a family member if I think they have schizophrenia?

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
One of the characteristic traits of schizophrenia is that those affected rarely have the insight to realize that they need help. Since early diagnosis and treatment is most effective, it is important that friends and relatives take action when schizophrenia is suspected. First, you may want to talk to your friend or family member about how you feel. You may be able to encourage him to visit a doctor on his own. You may also choose to visit a doctor or psychiatrist yourself to discuss your friend's situation. If this is the case, be prepared to answer questions about his symptoms, lifestyle, and recent changes in his life. In severe cases of delusional behavior or if someone is a threat to himself or others, contact emergency services or the police. They are trained to deal with these types of situations.
The best you can do for them is encourage them to see their physician for an evaluation. Once they have been evaluated then appropriate treament can then be started. If they refuse to seek medical attention and you believe they are a danger to themselves or someone else you can contact local law enforcement to see if they can be placed in emergency protective custody. The laws regarding this vary from one state to another.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.