Frequently Asked Questions for Caregivers

Resources for Caregivers

What is psychosis?

Psychosis is a group of symptoms and experiences that can make it difficult to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not. It may involve hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized thinking.

How do I know if my loved one is experiencing psychosis?

Signs of psychosis may include your loved one talking to themselves, seeming confused, or having difficulty separating reality from fantasy. Talking to your loved one may help create a clearer picture of what they are experiencing. Discuss any sudden changes in behavior with your loved one and/or their healthcare provider.

What questions can I ask my loved one to better understand what they are experiencing?

While each individual’s experiences will vary, it is generally helpful to ask open-ended questions to learn more about their experience and how you can assist them best. Here are some potential questions to get you started:

  • “Can you tell me what you’re experiencing right now?”
  • “How can I support you right now?”
  • “Are you feeling scared or overwhelmed?”
  • “Is there anything specific that caused these feelings or thoughts?”
  • “Is there anyone or anything that helps you feel calmer or safer?”
  • “Would you like me to call someone you trust to be with you right now?”
  • “Do you have any concerns or worries that you’d like to discuss?”
  • “Can you tell me more about the voices or things you see that others might not?”
  • “Would you like me to help you find a quiet and safe place?”
  • “Have you experienced anything like this before, and if so, what has helped in the past?”

What should I avoid saying or doing around my loved one who is experiencing psychosis?

Avoid stigma or judgment, use active listening skills, and prioritize empathy and understanding.

Can I help prevent my loved one from experiencing a psychotic episode?

While prevention isn’t always possible, fostering a supportive and understanding environment can positively impact your loved one’s well-being. Encouraging them to seek treatment may help shorten the duration and severity of an episode.

Does psychosis mean my loved one’s life is ruined?

No, psychosis does not mean your loved one’s life is ruined. Many people with psychosis can lead fulfilling lives with proper care and support.

Does psychosis make my loved one dangerous?

Having psychosis doesn’t automatically make someone dangerous. Most individuals with psychosis are not violent. In some cases, an individual experiencing psychosis may behave in confusing or unpredictable ways, and this can result in harm to themselves and others. Treatment can reduce this risk, so it is important for the individual to seek care as soon as possible.

How can I help my loved one with psychosis?

There are many ways to support a loved one who is experiencing psychosis. Talking to your loved one may help you understand what would help them best. Some actions which may be helpful include offering support, listening without judgment, and encouraging them to seek care.

Where can I find treatment for my loved one’s psychosis symptoms?

The MOBHC Treatment Locator can show you behavioral healthcare available in your area. Speaking to your loved one’s primary healthcare provider or a behavioral healthcare provider they already have a relationship with can help you find supportive services and treatment.

How is psychosis different from schizophrenia?

Psychosis can happen with or without a mental health condition. An episode of psychosis may be an isolated event and does not mean the individual will develop schizophrenia or any other condition later on. Schizophrenia is a specific mental disorder which involves persistent symptoms of psychosis along with other challenges.

How is psychosis determined in my loved one?

Diagnosis is performed by medical professionals who evaluate your loved one’s symptoms and experiences.

Is treating psychosis expensive?

Treatment costs can vary, but there are often resources and support available to help manage expenses.

Is psychosis curable?

Researchers are still looking for a cure. However, many people experience significant improvement and symptom management with the right treatment.

Is my loved one’s psychosis my fault?

No, psychosis is not anyone’s fault. It is a mental health condition which requires care, compassion, and support, just like any other health issue.

What does psychosis mean for my family?

Psychosis can be challenging, but with support, understanding, and treatment, many people recover and lead fulfilling lives.

If one person in my family experiences psychosis, does that mean the rest will?

Some research suggests that psychosis may have a genetic component. However, this does not mean that other family members will experience it. If you are concerned, it may be helpful to share information about psychosis with other family members, look out for those showing early signs of psychosis, and consult your healthcare provider.

What can I do to create a support system for my loved one experiencing psychosis?

The first step is to ask your loved one what would help them. Supporting their agency and autonomy during the entire recovery process will help ensure that their support system meets their needs. Other helpful steps may include developing a comprehensive support plan, involving their other loved ones and social supports (such as teachers, employers, clergy, and other community members), and educating yourself and those around you about psychosis.

What can I do if my loved one is showing signs of psychosis, and refuses to get help?

Expressing your concern and care, providing support, and seeking advice from a mental health professional are all helpful steps you can take if your loved one displays signs of another episode. Ultimately, you cannot take responsibility for your loved one’s psychosis.

How should I handle signs that my loved one may be experiencing another episode?

Talking to your loved one about your concerns, reaching out to their healthcare provider, and encourage your loved one to follow their treatment plan are all helpful steps you can take if your loved one displays signs of another episode.

How do I advocate for people who experience psychosis?

Advocate for accessible mental health services, address stigma when you encounter it, seek training on supporting individuals who experience psychosis, and promote understanding and empathy in your community.

Can my loved one with psychosis ever live independently?

With the right support and treatment, many individuals with psychosis can and do lead independent lives.

Can my loved one continue seeing a general practitioner, or do they need a specialist?

Your loved one can likely continue to see their own provider, but a mental health expert may be helpful for managing psychosis.

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