How to Help Someone During a Schizophrenic Episode

Learn how to help someone during a schizophrenic episode with our comprehensive guide at We Level Up Tamarac FL. Discover effective strategies and compassionate approaches to support your loved one through their challenges and ensure their safety and well-being during a schizophrenic episode.


Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder that impacts how people think, feel, perceive the world and themselves, and behave. Although it is not curable, schizophrenia is treatable and manageable. When controlled, its heavy symptoms do not manifest. When they do, it means that the person is having a schizophrenic episode.

Those who find themselves around people going through it can wonder what to do if someone is having a schizophrenic episode. There are ways to help a person struggling with a schizophrenic episode, but before anything, it´s crucial to stay calm and work towards minimizing stress for the person having the episode, as they are already highly distressed. 

Remember that mental health facilities, such as We Level Up Tamarac FL, can provide assistance in time of need. We can also empower you with knowledge and provide resources to learn what to do if someone is having a schizophrenic episode or even just to recognize when someone is showing schizophrenic episode symptoms and is in need of professional help. 

What is a Schizophrenic Episode?

Schizophrenia is a complex disorder whose symptoms may be severe if left untreated. It equally affects men and women but may have a slightly earlier onset in men. Less than 1% of the US population suffers from it. Some people may have recurrent schizophrenic episodes, while others go through life with barely a few of them

A woman crying during a schizophrenic episode

So, what is a schizophrenic episode, and what does a schizophrenic episode look like? 

It´s a condition in which a person starts showing certain symptoms that can be so overwhelming that they find themselves in a state of high distress and not being able to function. Roughly, schizophrenic episode symptoms are divided into three groups:

  • Positive schizophrenic episode symptoms: They encompass any change in thinking and behavior and can include delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and psychotic behaviors that are not seen in those without schizophrenia.
  • Negative schizophrenic episode symptoms: They refer to emotional and behavioral changes, like withdrawing from society, being emotionally flat or depressed, lacking motivation, or losing interest in everyday activities. 
  • Cognitive schizophrenic episode symptoms: These symptoms include problems in attention, concentration, and memory, making it difficult for a person to process information, use information after learning it, or even have a conversation. 

The first acute schizophrenic episode is usually very difficult for both the person going through it and their friends and family. With a bit of support, everyone can learn how to manage this state in a way that is non-burdening and non-intrusive for the person.

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Immediate Actions to Take

One of the misconceptions about schizophrenia refers to people with this diagnosis being seen as violent and dangerous for others. Not only is this not true, but they are frequently targets of violence. The risk of self-harm is also higher. During a psychotic episode, they might have hallucinations and delusions, making them uncertain about what´s true.

As a bystander, you might wonder how you can help. What to do if someone is having a schizophrenic episode? It´s essential to make a person going through an episode feel safe. Staying calm and offering reassurance can bring peace to a suffering person. Creating a mentally safe space is especially important if they feel like they are losing their minds, as they are not able to distinguish between what is real and what is not.

Although generally not dangerous, individuals going through an episode might change their behavior significantly due to the positive symptoms they are experiencing. This is why it´s also advisable to ensure the safety of others, especially if they act as a trigger for the person having the episode.

A person having a schizophrenic episode.
What is schizophrenic episode? A schizophrenic episode encompasses many symptoms, making it almost impossible for a person to function.

Providing Support During the Episode

Support for a struggling person comes in the form of safety creation and acceptance, but also in compassion, empathy, and understanding. All this ought to shape your communication. What you can do is practice active and mindful listening and pay attention to their body language. Acknowledging and validating them, even when you disagree, is important as well. 

Be patient when they try to express themselves, and give them verbal reassurance when needed. Beware that their episode can manifest with cognitive symptoms, and they might need time to process information and remember what you were talking about. Give them time to process the conversation and, if needed, simplify it. Don´t judge them or be dismissive

Other practical tips for communicating would be keeping eye contact, giving positive comments, and displaying acceptance and confidence in them

Two women talking about what is schizophrenic episode.
What to do if someone is having a schizophrenic episode? Show acceptance, understanding, and empathy.

Seeking Professional Help

Despite your best efforts to be helpful, keep in mind that it´s not on you to know how to treat a schizophrenic episode. At some point, seeking professional help is unavoidable and in the best interest of the person going through an episode

This especially goes for acute states in which a person is agitated. Agitation is often addressed with medicines, and only licensed staff is allowed to administer them. Additionally, medical experts may decide it´s beneficial for the person to stay in inpatient rehab for a while. This decision might depend on how long do schizophrenic episodes last.

The other situation in which you should consider professional support is when a friend or family member suffering from schizophrenia is avoiding it. For long-term schizophrenia management, assistance from professionals is essential. They can help in various ways, from mental health assessment and treatment definition to long-term support. You might be the one taking on the role of a persuader to look for professional help.

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Long-Term Treatment and Management

To live a fulfilled life despite struggling with the severity of schizophrenia, one needs proper therapy. Once the diagnosis is established, experts working with the individual need to define their personalized schizophrenia treatment in Florida. This treatment will probably entail a combination of medicines and psychotherapy.

The first line of treatment with medications includes antipsychotics. Antipsychotic medications can help with both the frequency and intensity of the psychotic symptoms (if this does not improve symptoms, clozapine may be prescribed). Antipsychotics are taken daily and typically in pill form. 

A hand holding many pills.
Antipsychotics are an important element in addressing schizophrenic episode symptoms.

As for psychotherapy, it´s there to help a person cope with their situation, manage symptoms while successfully taking care of daily tasks, and address challenges that might come their way. Those who, in addition to medicine, attend psychotherapy are less likely to be hospitalized. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is frequently implemented in schizophrenia treatment as it gives great results.

In some cases, if medicines are not included in the treatment, in addition to psychotherapy, other forms of alternative therapy, such as meditation therapy, might be recommended to help a person feel grounded.

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Additional Resources and Support

Knowing that schizophrenia is a challenge not just for a person struggling with it but also for their family and friends, we would like to leave you with additional educational resources.

  • You might want to explore bipolar schizophrenia to learn about the differences between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as well as cases of these conditions co-occurring and what to expect if that happens. 
  • Another case of co-occurrence is one of schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder, sometimes addressed as borderline schizophrenia. These two conditions have overlapping symptoms, making it important to learn to distinguish them.
  • As schizophrenia is one of the most common mental health conditions in women, you might want to learn about womens mental health facilities in case they are needed in the acute state of a schizophrenic episode.

Finally, make yourself aware of Florida mental health services. You or your loved ones might be in need of them at some point, and you will want to be able to make an educated decision about your mental health.

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So, What To Do If Someone Is Having a Schizophrenic Episode?

Having someone among your friends or within your family struggling with schizophrenia comes with many challenges for both them and yourself. Schizophrenia is a manageable and treatable state, and a person will not necessarily have many schizophrenic episodes. Still, it´s advisable to learn to recognize schizophrenic episode symptoms and educate yourself on topics like how long do schizophrenic episodes last or how to treat schizophrenic episode.

Remember, you need not be alone in this. Mental health facilities like We Level Up Florida can help you and your loved ones when you are struggling. Call us and get advice, information, or immediate help.

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Search We Level Up Tamarac FL for How to Help Someone During a Schizophrenic Episode Topics & Resources
Sources:

Marco, C.A. and Vaughan, J. (2005). Emergency management of agitation in schizophrenia. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 23(6), pp.767–776. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajem.2005.02.050.

National Institute of Mental Health (2024). Schizophrenia. [online] National Institute of Mental Health. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia.

Torres, F. (2024). What is schizophrenia? [online] American Psychiatric Association. Available at: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia.