Friends, Family, and Schizophrenia
Taking Care of a Loved One
"Oh No! Is He Relapsing Again? What Should I Do?"
Fear can overshadow the lives of people who care for those with schizophrenia. It is important that you know how to recognize and deal with the signs and symptoms of the disease, including
- Confused thinking and speech
- Emotional flatness (lack of expression)
Start by talking to a health care professional about signs and symptoms that your loved one displays and ask for advice on how to handle specific situations. Here are some general guidelines.
- Be natural and kind, not condescending
- Stay as calm as possible
- Do not belittle or argue about delusional beliefs
- Don't be overprotective. It's acceptable to leave your loved one alone. However, caregivers should watch their loved one for signs of suicidal thoughts or actions
- Define limits regarding which behaviors are not acceptable (for example, dangerous
behavior such as smoking in bed)
- Don't criticize too much; tell your loved one when he or she is doing something right
Remember, too, that there is only so much you can do. There may be times you wish you could do more, but, unfortunately, you can't make the disease "go away." It's important to accept the reality of schizophrenia and to have realistic expectations of your loved one.
"Will Your Loved One Harm Himself or Herself?"
It is important to know that approximately 10% of people with schizophrenia commit suicide. Between 20% and 40% attempt suicide at least once over the course of their illness. This is another reason why early and appropriate treatment is so important.
Talk to your loved one's health care professional if you are worried. Individuals who experience heightened symptoms of schizophrenia may require intensive treatment, including hospitalization. Hospitalization is sometimes necessary to treat
- Severe delusions or hallucinations
- Serious suicidal thoughts
- An inability to care for oneself
"What Kind of Future Can He or She Have?"
When someone you love has schizophrenia, the illness can get in the way of leading a productive life. Finding an appropriate treatment plan and learning to cope with the day-to-day challenges is an important part of helping your loved one live with schizophrenia.
But try not to lose sight of the fact that you can help your loved one set goals and work to achieve them. Depending on how well your loved one is doing, the goal could be as simple as doing his or her own laundry or as challenging as completing a college degree.
Taking Care of Yourself
"What's Going to Happen After We're Gone? Who Will Take Care of My Loved One?"
It's common for parents and other caretakers of an individual with schizophrenia—especially if he or she is unable to live independently—to become preoccupied with these questions. There are no easy answers. But you may achieve some peace of mind if you discuss your options with your loved one's health care professional or social worker. While the options may not seem ideal, almost any plan you develop will be better than none.
"What Happens If Our Lives Revolve Around Him or Her?"
Providing care to a loved one with schizophrenia may seem overwhelming at times. To help you cope, it is important that you give yourself the attention and care you deserve. Consider these suggestions.
- Take time out to relax and enjoy favorite activities or hobbies
- Do not neglect your own health. This means getting regular check-ups, good nutrition, adequate sleep, and exercise
- Speak openly about your needs, rather than repressing them and growing resentful
- Avoid needless frustrations by recognizing limitations—your own, as well as your loved one's
- Accept all the help and support you can get. Be creative about ways to share the responsibilities of caring for your loved one
- When possible, try to see the humor in situations. Laughter is a great stress reliever
"Was It Something We Did?"
The answer is no. No one should feel shame or guilt, and no one is to blame. Schizophrenia is a disease—not the result of bad parenting, trauma, abuse, or personal weakness.
Sometimes it's good to talk with people outside the family to learn how to let go of any guilt. Schizophrenia support groups are good for sharing experiences with others. It's always useful to talk to people who have "been there."
Important Safety Information About SEROQUEL XR
Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis (having lost touch with reality due to confusion and memory loss) treated with this type of medicine are at an increased risk of death, compared to placebo (sugar pill). SEROQUEL XR is not approved for treating these patients.
Antidepressants have increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in some children, teenagers, and young adults. Patients of all ages starting treatment should be watched closely for worsening of depression, suicidal thoughts or actions, unusual changes in behavior, agitation, and irritability. Patients, families, and caregivers should pay close attention to any changes, especially sudden changes in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. This is very important when an antidepressant medicine is started or when the dose is changed. These symptoms should be reported immediately to the doctor. SEROQUEL XR is not approved for children under the age of 10 years.
- Do not take SEROQUEL XR if you are allergic to quetiapine fumarate or any of the ingredients in SEROQUEL XR.
- Stroke that can lead to death can happen in elderly people with dementia who take medicines like SEROQUEL XR.
- Stop SEROQUEL XR and call your doctor right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms: high fever; excessive sweating; stiff muscles; confusion; changes in pulse, heart rate, and blood pressure. These may be symptoms of a rare, but very serious and potentially fatal, side effect called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS).
- High blood sugar and diabetes have been reported with SEROQUEL XR and medicines like it. If you have diabetes or risk factors such as obesity or a family history of diabetes, your doctor should check your blood sugar before you start taking SEROQUEL XR and also during therapy. If you develop symptoms of high blood sugar or diabetes, such as excessive thirst or hunger, increased urination, or weakness, contact your doctor. Complications from diabetes can be serious and even life threatening.
- Increases in triglycerides and in LDL (bad) cholesterol and decreases in HDL (good) cholesterol have been reported with SEROQUEL XR. Your doctor should check your cholesterol levels before you start SEROQUEL XR and during therapy.
- Weight gain has been reported with SEROQUEL XR. Your doctor should check your weight regularly.
- Tell your doctor about any movements you cannot control in your face, tongue, or other body parts, as they may be signs of a serious condition called tardive dyskinesia (TD). TD may not go away, even if you stop taking SEROQUEL XR. TD may also start after you stop taking SEROQUEL XR.
- Other risks include feeling dizzy or lightheaded upon standing, decreases in white blood cells (which can be fatal), or trouble swallowing. Tell your doctor if you experience any of these.
- Before starting treatment, tell your doctor about all prescription and nonprescription medicines you are taking. Also tell your doctor if you have or have had low white blood cell count, seizures, abnormal thyroid tests, high prolactin levels, heart or liver problems, or cataracts. An eye exam for cataracts is recommended at the beginning of treatment and every 6 months thereafter.
- Since drowsiness has been reported with SEROQUEL XR, you should not participate in activities such as driving or operating machinery until you know that you can do so safely. Avoid becoming overheated or dehydrated while taking SEROQUEL XR. Do not drink alcohol while taking SEROQUEL XR.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant. Avoid breast-feeding while taking SEROQUEL XR.
- The most common side effects are drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, dizziness, increased appetite, upset stomach, weight gain, fatigue, disturbance in speech and language, and stuffy nose.
- Do not stop taking SEROQUEL XR without talking to your doctor. Stopping SEROQUEL XR suddenly may cause side effects.
This is not a complete summary of safety information. Please discuss the full Prescribing Information with your health care provider.
SEROQUEL XR is a once-daily tablet approved in adults for (1) add-on treatment to an antidepressant for patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who did not have an adequate response to antidepressant therapy; (2) acute depressive episodes in bipolar disorder; (3) acute manic or mixed episodes in bipolar disorder alone or with lithium or divalproex; (4) long-term treatment of bipolar disorder with lithium or divalproex; and (5) schizophrenia.
Please read the accompanying Medication Guide and full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNINGS.
Click here to see the Prescribing Information for Seroquel XR, including Boxed WARNINGS.
Click here to see the Medication Guide for Seroquel XR.
Click here to see the Prescribing Information for Seroquel, including Boxed WARNINGS.
Click here to see the Medication Guide for Seroquel.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.FDA.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
The information on this Web site should not take the place of talking with your doctor or health care professional. If you have any questions about your condition, or if you would like more information about Seroquel XR, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Only you and your health care professional can decide if Seroquel XR is right for you.
Patient photos are intended to be representative of typical patients with bipolar disorder and/or major depressive disorder and are not of actual patients.