Helping Your Friend or Family Member through a Psychotic Episode
By: Beth McHugh 2007
Watching a loved one go through psychosis is a heartbreaking process, especially for parents. Not knowing what to do compounds the problem and causes more stress, both for the sufferer and the family member alike.
Knowledge is power and there are many things that family and friends can do to help.
- Find out as much about psychosis as you can. Knowing the typical
behavior patterns of a person going through a psychotic episode will
assist you to recognize the early signs of the condition, seek earlier
intervention, and develop your own set of coping skills to better
deal with each episode as it arises. This will also have the effect
of lowering your own stress levels as you learn to cope with the inevitable
ebbs and flows of the condition. Being in a better state of health
yourself enables you to be a better support to your loved one.
- Be aware that psychosis is a medical condition and requires medical
intervention. Just as you cannot heal a broken leg without medical
help, so you will require assistance in dealing with psychosis.
- Be patient with your loved one. Be patient with yourself. A person
who finds themselves experiencing psychosis usually takes a long time
to fully accept the condition and the ongoing treatment and life changes
that are required. You, too, may need to be patient as you come to
the realization that your son or daughter or friend needs to make
adjustments to their lives now that this condition has made an appearance.
- Speak to others in a similar position to you. Not only will they
provide much needed support, but they will be able to make you aware
of the various pitfalls of the mental health system. This way you
will be prepared for the inevitable obstacles you will encounter and
be better able to assert yourself on behalf of your loved one.
- Look after your own health. Do not allow yourself to become rundown
and fragile. Ask for help from friends and community sources. Your
loved one depends on you to be their guide through dark times and
you need to be in peak condition to do this. Delegate everything that
you possibly can. Do not fall into the belief that you are indispensable.
The world will go on if you die, but your loved ones would prefer
it not to be that way.