What to Do If Someone Is Having a Schizophrenic Episode?

April 5, 2024

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that disrupts your thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and social interactions. One of the hallmarks of this mental condition is that its episodes are unpredictable. During a schizophrenic episode, you experience delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thinking. All this makes it difficult for you to distinguish between fantasy and reality. So, the question you probably have for us is this: What to do if someone is having a schizophrenic episode? In this article, Time Wellness Arkansas dives into the signs, causes, and challenges. Let’s get to it.

Recognizing a Schizophrenic Episode

If you’re able to recognize the signs of a schizophrenic episode early, you can provide timely support to the person struggling.

For illustration, here are a few common indicators of a schizophrenic episode:

  • Hallucinations may involve hearing voices, seeing things, or feeling sensations that aren’t real. Hearing voices and other auditory hallucinations are particularly common.
  • Delusions and false beliefs that you may hold despite evidence to the contrary. For example, a person with schizophrenic delusions might think that somebody is watching them or that they have special powers, although there’s no proof of that.
  • Disorganized thinking refers to the person’s thoughts becoming jumbled and illogical. In fact, this person might have trouble concentrating or following conversations.
A confused, disordered woman lying in bed, a clear indication of a schizophrenic episode
A schizophrenic episode can show up as confusion

A person who experiences a schizophrenic episode can be frightened and confused. So, if you see it in someone, be compassionate, patient, and calm when talking to them. As a result, this person might feel more secure and supported during these challenging moments.

Likewise, you can reach out to mental health services in Arkansas for a more comprehensive approach to treating mental health illness.

Distinguishing Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizophrenia shares similarities with schizoaffective disorder—a complex condition that combines symptoms of schizophrenia with elements of mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder. It’s essential to understand the differences between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder because care and treatment for each are different.

Distinguishing between the two can be challenging, especially during an acute episode, as the presence of mood disorder symptoms in schizoaffective disorder may overlap with the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. However, a key differentiator is the timing and persistence of mood symptoms in relation to psychotic episodes. In schizoaffective disorder, mood disorder symptoms are prominent and persistent, often occurring simultaneously with or independently of psychotic symptoms, whereas in schizophrenia, any mood symptoms are less pronounced and not the primary feature of the disorder.

Recognizing the signs and understanding these differences is crucial for seeking appropriate treatment. Specialized schizoaffective treatment in Arkansas is available, offering a targeted approach that addresses both the psychotic and mood disorder aspects of the condition.

Steps to Take If Someone Is Having a Schizophrenic Episode

For a better prognosis, experts say that early identification and intervention of schizophrenia are critical.

With that in mind, you can take a few tried-and-tested steps to help someone experiencing a schizophrenic episode.

Here’s an overview:

  1. Ensure the safety of the person who has the schizophrenic episode and everybody around them. If the person is behaving in a way that could be harmful, seek immediate help from professionals. For example, you can reach out to emergency services or contact one of the most reputable schizophrenic treatment centers in Arkansas.
  2. Stay calm and maintain a cool-headed demeanor. In other words, speak in a reassuring, gentle tone and avoid challenging the person’s hallucinations or delusions. Tell them that you’re there to support and help them no matter what.
  3. Avoid overstimulation by reducing the environmental stress that could worsen the situation. Move to a quieter, less crowded space if possible. Apart from that, you can also dim bright lights and turn off loud TV and music. That way, you create a more calming environment for the person experiencing a schizophrenic episode.

A rule of thumb here is to remain calm and collected—whatever happens.

How to Communicate During a Schizophrenic Episode

When you communicate with a person experiencing a schizophrenic episode, consider the following strategies to make the conversation more effective:

  • Use clear, simple, and empathetic language: Be straightforward and concise with your sentences. The reason is that complex or abstract ideas might be difficult for the person to process. Moreover, express empathy and understanding, letting them know that their feelings are valid.
  • Be patient: Give them time to respond, as they may need extra mental space to process information and articulate their thoughts.
  • Don’t confront them in any way: Avoid challenging their delusions or hallucinations bluntly. Instead, gently steer the conversation toward neutral topics and offer to help them with something practical.
Two people arguing about what to do if someone is having a schizophrenic episode
Never argue with a person experiencing a schizophrenic episode

Yet, there are some things you should avoid doing or saying altogether. Here are a few don’ts:

  • Argue with their delusions
  • Invalidate their experience
  • Overload them with questions
  • Restrain them physically

Communication is key in these circumstances. If you miss any of the above, the situation can worsen.

Long-Term Support and Treatment for Schizophrenia

Managing the immediate effects of the schizophrenic episode only goes so far.

You need a long-term strategy to soothe the effects of this mental illness.

So, a partial hospitalization program is your best bet for achieving the results you want. PHP mental health Arkansas gives you the tools and structured outpatient support. With this program, you get:

  • Specialized care: PHPs offer a wide range of therapeutic modalities, such as group therapy, individual therapy, and medication management. At Time Wellness Arkansas, we tailor all of these to your individual needs or the needs of the person who requires our assistance. With our cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), you’ll be well on your way to feeling better.
  • Ongoing support: PHPs provide ongoing support and monitoring. This helps you manage your symptoms and prevent relapse. In fact, it’s an opportunity to build coping skills and strategies—and deal with triggers and stressors.
  • Resources and information: PHPs provide education about mental health conditions. Not bound by convention, our programs go one step further in helping you manage your mental health. We provide access to resources that help you and your family understand and manage the condition more effectively.
A woman stretching outside a PHP center
Physical exercise and specialized care comprise a critical component of battling schizophrenic episodes

In the end, partial hospitalization helps you or your loved ones improve your quality of life.

Act Now: Get Treatment for Your Schizophrenic Episode

To ensure a person experiencing a schizophrenic episode gets better, you need to follow the steps below:

  • Recognize the signs, including delusions and disorganized thinking.
  • Ensure the safety of the person and everyone around them.
  • Stay calm and offer reassurance.
  • Minimize environmental stressors that could make things worse.
  • Use clear and supportive wording when you talk to the person.
  • Avoid overwhelming them with questions.

After you manage the immediate schizophrenic episode, you should focus on seeking professional treatment and intervention. 

Finally, it’s critical that you and your family are informed and prepared to respond compassionately to schizophrenic episodes. Educate yourself about where to get local resources and how to build a support network.

Reach out to Time Wellness Arkansas to get immediate support and ongoing care!