- Should I Call a Schizophrenia Helpline?
- What Questions Should I Ask?
- What Is Schizophrenia?
- Free Hotline Numbers
Getting Help for Schizophrenia
Calling a schizophrenia hotline is a free, easy way to speak to a knowledgeable professional who can help you learn more about the disorder and the various treatment options used to manage the symptoms and side effects of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a chronic, debilitating mental illness with potentially pervasive negative consequences—affecting not only those individuals who have it, but friends and family who love them.1 Patients diagnosed with schizophrenia tend to be in their late teens to mid-thirties, and symptoms are often preceded by what is called the prodromal period.2 During the prodromal period, an individual may seem suspicious or paranoid, may begin to interact with a new group of friends, as well as exhibit other vague symptoms, such as isolation, secretiveness, irritability, changes in sleep habits, lack of motivation, and slipping grades—any of which could be attributed to common teenage behavior.3
Schizophrenia cannot be cured, but with proper medication and treatment, it can be managed effectively.
While some symptoms of schizophrenia can go largely undetected, others can be alarming—including hallucinations and delusions. Schizophrenia cannot be cured, but with proper medication and treatment, it can be managed effectively.2 A schizophrenia hotline can provide more information about your treatment options, but if you think that you or a loved are in danger of harming yourself or others, call 911 immediately.
Should I Call a Schizophrenia Helpline?
If you’re experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, or know someone who is, you may be overwhelmed with questions about your mental health and what to do.
All schizophrenia hotlines are private and confidential. Conversations are not recorded, so you can comfortably speak with someone about your questions, concern, and fears. Schizophrenia helplines are a useful resource for family members or friends who would like to learn how best to encourage and support a loved one who has schizophrenia. People call hotlines for many reasons, including:
- To learn more about the disease of schizophrenia, which can manifest differently from person to person.
- To get support from someone who understands the illness and will not judge or discriminate.
- To anonymously research treatment resources and professionals, including counselors, therapists, psychiatrists, or treatment facilities that will properly treat schizophrenia and other co-occurring diagnoses.
- To get more information about treatment options, medications, and where to access them.
What Questions Should I Ask?
Once the illness is stabilized, people with schizophrenia can benefit from self-help efforts. Although society is making strides toward understanding mental illness, the stigma surrounding schizophrenia is still pervasive. Calling a schizophrenia helpline is a confidential way to ask any questions you may have about the disorder in a safe environment. Hotlines exist to provide information and education, answer questions, and assist callers who want to be linked to appropriate resources for further help and treatment.
If you have recently been diagnosed, suspect you might have schizophrenia, or are experiencing troublesome symptoms, you may have many questions and concerns. Call a schizophrenia hotline to learn more about the disorder, what it might mean for you, and how it can be managed. Questions you might ask include:
- How is schizophrenia diagnosed?
- What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?
- Can schizophrenia be treated?
- Will I have to take medication?
- What are potential side effects of the medications?
- How else can I manage symptoms?
- What are the success rates of treatment?
- Will I need a special treatment program?
- How long will treatment last?
- Can I still go to school, work, and socialize?
- How much does it cost? Will my insurance cover the cost of treatment and medication?
- What can I do if I’m experiencing hallucinations?
- What if I have other mental health issues as well?
- What should I do next?
Schizophrenia hotlines are not just for people who are experiencing symptoms; they also serve the friends and family members of those with schizophrenia. Loved ones can call a helpline to learn more about the condition and how to help. Questions family and friends might ask include:
- How can I help a loved one with schizophrenia get treatment?
- What kinds of treatment are available?
- What resources are available to help me support the person with schizophrenia?
- What should I do if someone is experiencing hallucinations or delusions?
- What should I do if I think the person is a danger to himself or others?
- How do I speak to my loved one about schizophrenia and show support?
What Is Schizophrenia?
Individuals with schizophrenia have a higher risk of concurrent mental health disorders, including substance use, anxiety, panic, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health disorder that, if left untreated, can compromise an individual’s ability to function normally in society. Early detection and treatment is essential to improve chances of recovery.2
Schizophrenia can give rise to paranoia and isolation and can lead to impairments with thought processing, memory, motivation, personal hygiene, social relationships, and emotional displays.3 These symptoms can be debilitating in social situations or in the person’s place of employment.
Symptoms of schizophrenia are generally divided into three clusters: positive, negative, and cognitive.1
- Positive symptoms are those that are not seen in the general population, including hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thoughts or movements.
- Negative symptoms are disruptions of normal emotional and behavioral responses, such as reduced pleasure in everyday life or reduced expression of emotions in voice tone or facial expression (called “flat affect”).
- Cognitive symptoms are those that affect the person’s memory, thought, and expression. This can include difficulty making decisions, paying attention, or using recently learned information.
Some of the major diagnostic features of schizophrenia include the following:3
- Disorganized speech (can be tangential, partially or completely incoherent).
- Disorganized or catatonic behavior.
- Reduced emotional expression.
- Significant decrease in functioning at work, attention to personal hygiene, or interpersonal skills.
- Symptoms that last for 6 months or longer.
Schizophrenia is generally thought of as a constellation of interrelated symptoms, rather than a defined set of criteria. Additional characteristics that may correspond with schizophrenia and help aid doctors in making a diagnosis include:3
- Increased aggression or agitation.
- Difficulty focusing.
- Disturbed sleep patterns.
- Inappropriate emotional response, such as flat affect or laughing at inappropriate times.
- Lack of motivation.
- Low mood.
- Memory difficulty.
- Reduced thought processing speed.
Individuals with schizophrenia have a higher risk of concurrent mental health disorders, including substance use, anxiety, panic, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.3Substance use disorders often occur in conjunction with schizophrenia.3 More than 50% of individuals with schizophrenia smoke cigarettes on a regular basis and meet the criteria for tobacco use disorder, which can place the individual at an increased risk other medical issues.3 Anxiety disorders, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are also found at higher rates in individuals with schizophrenia than the rest of the population.3
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, the compassionate staff at a schizophrenia hotline can help talk you through the current situation and connect you with professional treatment providers to help you live a full and complete life.
Schizophrenia Treatment and Therapy
Medication is often used to treat the more distressing symptoms of schizophrenia and allow other psychotherapeutic techniques to be introduced.1 Antipsychotic medications can reduce symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, sleep patterns, hostility, and aggression, which in turn serves to help individuals comply with their treatment plans. 5A variety of antipsychotic medications are approved to treat schizophrenia, but it can take some time to find the correct medication or combination of medications that work best for each individual.5 Anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to augment the antipsychotic medication regimen to further reduce agitation or anxiety symptoms.
Once psychotic symptoms are managed, other therapeutic interventions can be applied. Psychosocial treatments, such as programs that allow people to accommodate for their condition and learn to live functionally without interference from the disorder can be especially helpful.1 Programs exist to help patients overcome barriers, including vocational learning and social skills to help improve their chances of living a productive life.1
Psychotherapeutic interventions can also be helpful in managing symptoms of schizophrenia that persist despite medication. This can include individual therapy, family therapy, social skills training, and job skills training.5
Free Hotline Numbers
Hotlines are available to provide support for individuals in crisis and those who love them. Some of the available hotlines and resources include the following:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
If schizophrenia symptoms are causing emotional distress, or if you’re feeling suicidal for any reason, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides crisis intervention and free emotional support via a 24/7 national hotline as well as an option for live chat online.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
SAMHSA’s free behavioral health treatment locator is a convenient starting point for those who are ready to seek treatment for their mental health condition. This hotline offers both English- and Spanish-speaking assistance, and is also available online to conveniently connect you with treatment facilities and community resources in your area.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-6264
Available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, the NAMI helpline staff can answer a variety of questions about mental health disorders, treatment, support groups, and education, and can also refer you to vocational support and legal services if needed.
- Boys Town National Hotline: 1-800-448-3000
Coping with schizophrenia can be especially difficult for teenagers and young adults. At-risk youth and their families can call the Boys Town hotline for crisis intervention. Available 24/7 in English, Spanish, and over 140 other languages, Boys Town also has a sister site called Your Life Your Voice that provides support via telephone, online chat, text messaging, and e-mail.
- Crisis Text Line: text “connect” to 741741
When calling a helpline isn’t feasible, people suffering from schizophrenia can reach out to the Crisis Text Line for help via text message. Specialized crisis counselors provide confidential, free, around-the-clock support for a wide range of mental health issues. Text message charges are waived and will not appear on a phone bill to ensure your privacy.
- National Institute on Mental Health. (2016). Schizophrenia.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2017). Schizophrenia.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 99–105.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2017). What is Schizophrenia?
- Mayo Clinic. (2016). Schizophrenia.