Schizophrenia affects an estimated .25 – .64% of adults in the United States. While being diagnosed and living with schizophrenia can be challenging, there is some good news. There are ways to learn how to deal with schizophrenia and improve your quality of life. Education is the first step. Whether it’s you or a loved one who’s been diagnosed, the more you know about schizophrenia, the better you’ll be able to deal with and manage both positive and negative symptoms.
It’s really important to understand that no two people experience schizophrenia in the same way. That’s why we’ve listed a variety of coping skills for schizophrenia, to help you have as many tools as possible to manage this condition and enhance your overall mental health.
1. Learn More About Schizophrenia
One of the most important steps when learning how to deal with schizophrenia is discovering as much as possible about the condition. There are many resources online to help you educate yourself and improve your schizophrenia coping skills. Just be careful that you’re reading and using reliable sources. When looking for information, it’s most beneficial to focus on:
- Finding resources
- Understanding positive symptoms and negative symptoms of schizophrenia
- Developing a support network
- Finding a therapist or other mental or behavioral health provider
- Learning about different types of therapy
- Inquiring about medication for schizophrenia
Look for non-profit mental health associations, healthcare facilities, support groups, and research-based organizations to get you started. Some reputable online sources include:
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- The Schizophrenia Society of Canada
- The American Psychiatric Association(APA)
Your healthcare team can always help you find additional support so you can learn more about living with schizophrenia.
2. Practice Self Care
Self-care is something everyone who wants to succeed in life should make a priority. It becomes even more essential when managing a mental health condition like schizophrenia. Taking the time to care for yourself is one of the best ways you can be as mentally and physically healthy as possible.
“While self-care is important for everyone, when managing schizophrenia, taking care of yourself through sleep hygiene, regular exercise/movement, a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol/drugs makes a significant impact on your symptoms. These strategies, along with medication, can help manage day-to-day stressors which can contribute to symptom management.”Talkspace therapist Jill E. Daino, LCSW-R
Self-care tips for managing schizophrenia:
- Get enough sleep — aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night
- Make hygiene a priority, even when you don’t feel up to it — you’ll feel better for it in the long run
- Do things for yourself — spend time doing art, listening to music, or getting out in nature
- Maintain your friendships — isolation can make any mental or physical health condition more pronounced
3. Find Ways to Regulate Stress
For many people, regulating stress can be difficult in the beginning. Like most things, it becomes easier with practice. For people living with schizophrenia, stress can be devastating. It can cause symptoms to worsen and make schizophrenia treatment more challenging. Fortunately, there are ways to combat and manage your stress, including:
- Practice deep breathing exercises
- Keep a journal for mental health — writing offers an outlet and can be an excellent coping skill for schizophrenia; you’ll be able to release your thoughts and reflect on your experiences
- Workout or do yoga several times a week
- Seek therapy to help you learn more effective ways to manage stress
“Since stress can exacerbate symptoms, it’s important to find ways to manage day-to-day stress. Being able to talk with a supportive person, attend a schizophrenia support group, engage in activities you enjoy, or use relaxation strategies can all make a difference each day in your stress levels.”Talkspace therapist Jill E. Daino, LCSW-R
4. Aim for a Healthy Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward making living with schizophrenia more manageable. This can include things like ensuring you’re:
- Eating a healthy diet that’s rich in whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables
- Exercising multiple times a week
- Meditating regularly
- Staying hydrated — getting enough water every day will help your energy level and more
- Avoiding recreational drug and alcohol use
5. Join a Support Group for Schizophrenia
Support groups can be a big help for those coping with schizophrenia and their family members. If you’re not sure where to look, your healthcare team should be able to recommend a local group in your area. In addition, the National Alliance on Mental Illness can help you connect with a support group near you.
6. Seek Types of Therapy for Schizophrenia
Finding an effective treatment plan and sticking with it is essential to coping with schizophrenia. Therapy is a popular treatment for schizophrenia without medication. Below are a few of the therapies that have proven effective for people living with this challenging mental health condition.
Therapy for schizophrenia helps you learn how to deal with the thought processes and behaviors that may not be healthy. You’ll understand more about your condition and, specifically when treating schizophrenia, focus on being able to differentiate between reality and some of the distorted thinking that’s common in this condition.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, where you discuss your feelings, emotions, and issues with a licensed therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist. CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought processes and behaviors.
When using CBT to treat schizophrenia, you’ll figure out what your triggers are and learn to deal with the hallucinations and voices that are some of the more common cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. The combination of CBT and medication is often an effective treatment plan for many people.
Cognitive enhancement therapy (CET)
CET combines computer modules with in-person therapy to help those living with schizophrenia and other serious mental health conditions be able to better cope with everyday social situations.
CET is designed for people who are receiving other forms of treatment and whose schizophrenia symptoms have stabilized. This type of therapy can be more cost-effective than some other types since much of the therapy is done in a group setting.
Psychosocial therapy is psychotherapy (talk therapy) that’s specifically designed to help people with mental health conditions like schizophrenia be able to fit into their community and deal well with social settings.
Psychosocial therapy can focus on things like social skills, family education, rehabilitation, and self-help groups.
7. Consider Medication for Schizophrenia
Prescription medication is another treatment option that’s often effective for people coping with schizophrenia. There are a variety of approved medications for schizophrenia.
Antipsychotics (atypical & typical)
Antipsychotic medications help reduce delusions and hallucinations. Some antipsychotics used to treat schizophrenia include:
- *Haldol (Haloperidol)
- *Loxitane (Loxapine)
- *Navane (Thiothixene)
- *Prolixin (Fluphenazine)
- *Thorazine (Chlorpromazine)
- *Trilafon (Perphenazine)
- *Stelazine (Trifluoperazine)
- Abilify (Aripiprazole)
- Fanapt (Iloperidone)
- Geodon (Ziprasidone)
- Invega (Paliperidone)
- Latuda (Lurasidone)
- Risperdal (Risperidone)
- Rexulti (Brexpiprazole)
- Saphris (Asenapine)
- Seroquel (Quetiapine)
- Vraylar (Cariprazine)
- Zyprexa (Olanzapine)
*First-generation, or “typical” medications. These have been around longer and are generally more affordable than the others. However, typical antipsychotics carry a higher risk of serious side effects than some newer, second-generation antipsychotic medications. They’re typically only attempted when other medications haven’t been effective.
Antidepressants can be used in conjunction with antipsychotics to help ease negative feelings, isolation, and depression. Some of these medications include:
- Celexa (Citalopram)
- Zoloft (Sertraline)
- Prozac (Fluoxetine)
- Paxil (Paroxetine)
Mood stabilizers help keep people from bouncing back and forth between extreme highs and extreme lows. These medications can be prescribed alone, or they may be used with antipsychotics. Some mood stabilizers used for schizophrenia coping include:
- Lamictal (Lamotrigine)
- Tegretol (Carbamazepine)
- Depakote (Sodium valproate)
8. Stay Consistent With Your Treatments
An essential part of learning how to deal with schizophrenia is following your mental health team’s instructions. While it can be tempting to skip an appointment or stop taking your medications, especially when your schizophrenia symptoms start to subside and you begin feeling better, it’s so important to continue your schizophrenia treatment unless your healthcare team tells you to change something.
Effective, long-term outcomes are possible when people with schizophrenia rely on continued treatment that builds over time.
“Getting consistent care from a psychiatrist and therapist, even when someone is symptom-free, is vital to maintaining well-being. Working with the treatment team over time establishes healthy practices that help during times of stress and/or when symptoms are present.”Talkspace therapist Jill E. Daino, LCSW-R
Find Schizophrenia Support with Talkspace
Talkspace makes it easy to get help and learn how to deal with schizophrenia. Our online therapy platform has changed how people think about therapy. With Talkspace, you can access affordable mental healthcare from the comfort of your own home, when and how you want it. Our therapists are highly qualified and skilled in treating a variety of mental health conditions, including schizophrenia.
Learn more about how Talkspace can give you the schizophrenia coping tools you need to live life how you want to.