Why Is It Important for My Friend or Relative to Stay on Treatment?
Bipolar I Disorder and schizophrenia are medical illnesses that have no cure. They could last for many years or even a lifetime. Therefore, the most important thing people with Bipolar I Disorder or schizophrenia can do is keep taking their medicine. By taking medicine as directed by their doctor, your friend or relative has a better chance of getting the most out of treatment.
Taking medicine as prescribed and following a treatment plan can help the one you are caring for:
- Keep symptoms under control
- Stay focused on goals
- Reduce the chances of symptoms coming back or getting worse
However, if the medicine is not taken as directed, there may be consequences your friend or relative may want to avoid.
Challenges facing the one you care for
Taking medicine every day is hard, even for people who do not have Bipolar I Disorder or schizophrenia. There are many reasons why someone could miss taking his or her medicine. The cause may be accidental. It may be deliberate. Whatever the reason, when medicine is not taken properly, your friend or relative may suffer. With your help, your loved one may be able to overcome some of the challenges faced when taking medicine.
Here are some of the challenges the one you care for may face:
- Simply forgets or takes the wrong dose
- Denies having Bipolar I Disorder or schizophrenia
- Doesn't think the medicine is working
- Resists authority and being told what to do
- Fears becoming "addicted" to the medicine
- Has symptoms caused by the illness
- May feel he or she doesn't need medicine when feeling better
- Feels stigmatized by having to take medicine for this illness
- Side effects of medicine
- If you think the one you care for is experiencing any side effects, talk to his or her doctor immediately
- Medicine doesn't seem to be helping with symptoms
- Family members may advise the person to stop treatment when feeling better
- Inadequate support or supervision
Is long-acting medicine given by injection right for your loved one?
Many patients and caregivers like long-acting medicine given by injection because it does not need to be taken every day. That means there's less worry about missing daily doses. Long-acting medicines given by injection are released slowly and steadily into the body. This allows the medicine to work for weeks at a time. As a result, the medicine does not need to be taken every day.
Recognizing the signs of relapse to a mood episode
Relapse means the return of symptoms of the illness. It's important to know the early signs of relapse. Recognizing these signs and seeking medical treatment are critical in the management of the illness. Be aware of sudden changes in your friend's or relative's behavior.
Some signs of a manic episode of Bipolar I Disorder can include:
- Inflated self-esteem
- Reduced need for sleep
- More talkative than usual
- Racing thoughts
- Easily distracted
- Increase in goal-directed activity
- Extreme involvement in pleasurable, high risk activities, such as unrestrained spending sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish investments
Some signs of a depressive episode of Bipolar I Disorder can include:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
- Lack of interest in daily activities
- Weight gain or significant weight loss when not dieting
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Noticeable agitation or retardation
- Loss of energy or fatigue
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Trouble concentrating
- Persistent thoughts of suicide or death
- If the one you care for has thoughts of death or suicide, contact his or her doctor immediately
Some signs of a schizophrenia relapse can include:
- Withdrawing from other people/difficulties in social situations
- Inability to concentrate
- Disorganized thinking
If you think that your loved one is showing any signs of relapse, tell the doctor immediately.
*Please discuss your symptoms with your healthcare professional. Your healthcare professional will review your symptoms and may consult the established guidelines, which are available in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, where applicable.