When one spouse in a marriage has schizophrenia, it is often because they met before the onset of the illness. “Schizophrenia makes it hard for people to form close bonds. People tend to stay single,” says schizophrenia expert Dr. Dost Ongur.
The onset of schizophrenia can be jarring for the healthy spouse. Someone you love and care for may suddenly appear detached and cold, even hostile. But with the right support, relationships can survive through a schizophrenia diagnosis. Here are some tips:
- The partner with schizophrenia must get treatment: Schizophrenia can make people act out unpredictably. Without proper treatment, the healthy partner could find him/herself the object of delusional actions and abuse.
- The healthy partner needs support too: Schizophrenia can make people more distant; people with the disease may have trouble fulfilling their partner’s emotional needs. Depression is common among schizophrenia caregivers, so getting a therapist may be necessary.
- Household chores: Schizophrenia impedes the recognition of social cues, so people with the disease may not know what chores they have to perform around the house. Don’t assume they understand what they ought to do.
- Finances: People with schizophrenia can have trouble holding a job; applying for disability benefits from Social Security may be helpful. Schizophrenia treatments can also be expensive.
- Sex: Schizophrenia can lower a person’s sex drive; some antipsychotic medications also reduce libido. Counseling can help return to a level of normalcy. Talk to a doctor about medications for erectile dysfunction and sexual response problems.
Do you or someone you love have schizophrenia? Consider joining one of the Segal Institute’s clinical research studies on schizophrenia.