Schizophrenia in Teens: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Schizophrenia is an illness that harms how your brain works and how you think. It affects each person in a different way, both on a daily basis and over a lifetime.

Schizophrenia can change you in many ways. It may make it harder for you to think clearly, manage how you feel, and deal with other people.

Most people who have schizophrenia hear and sometimes see things that are not there (hallucinations), often believe some things that are not true (delusions), and may think that some people are trying to harm them (paranoia).

Living with schizophrenia can cause many challenges. It is a difficult disease. It changes your life and your family members' lives. But if you are willing to work at helping yourself, you get professional help, and you have the support and understanding of your family, you can live a full and meaningful life.

When psychosis is not treated, the risks are higher for suicide, a hospital stay, and other problems. Early treatment may help a person who is having his or her first episode of psychotic thoughts. Ask your doctor about early treatment.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Follow your treatment plan

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. When you feel good, you may think that you do not need your medicines, but it is important to keep taking them as scheduled.
  • Go to your counselling sessions. Call and talk with your counsellor if you cannot attend or do not think the sessions are helping. Do not just stop going.
  • Go to any skill training your doctor recommends. This may include training for social or job skills.
  • Go to a support group. A support group gives you the chance to talk with teens who are going through the same things you are.
  • Work with your family or close friends. They can help you get the right treatment, deal with your symptoms, and get along in your community. Family counselling is an important part of working with your family.
  • Learn about schizophrenia. This can improve the quality of your life and the lives of those who care about you.
  • Learn how to recognize the first signs of relapse. A relapse happens when symptoms return or get worse after you have been doing better. Signs of a relapse include not wanting to do things with others and having problems concentrating. Have a plan to deal with relapse and get help right away.
  • Keep the number for a suicide crisis centre on or near your phone. To find a suicide prevention crisis centre in your province, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention webpage at

Live a healthy lifestyle

  • Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. Having problems with drugs or alcohol makes treating schizophrenia harder. If you have problems with drugs or alcohol, you need to treat both that problem and schizophrenia to help yourself get better. Talk to your doctor if you have this kind of problem.
  • Get plenty of exercise every day. Go for a walk or jog, ride your bike, or play sports with friends. Exercise and activity can keep you fit.
  • Relieve stress. Reducing stress may mean fewer relapses.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep can help your mood and make you feel less stressed.
  • Eat a balanced diet. This helps your body deal with tension and stress. Whole grains, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and protein are part of a balanced diet.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking increases the risk for other diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You are thinking about suicide or are threatening suicide.
  • You feel you cannot stop from hurting yourself or someone else.
  • You hear voices that tell you to hurt yourself or someone else or to do something illegal, such as destroy property or steal.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You show warning signs of suicide, such as talking about death or spending long periods of time alone.
  • You hear voices.
  • You think someone is trying to harm you.
  • You cannot concentrate or are easily confused.
  • You are drinking a lot of alcohol or using illegal drugs.
  • You have a hard time taking care of basic needs, such as grooming.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your symptoms come back or are getting worse after you have been getting better.
  • You cannot go to your counselling sessions.
  • You are not taking your medicines or you are thinking about not taking them.

Where can you learn more?

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