For people with schizophrenia, hospitals are familiar places. Just how often a patient will end up in a hospital depends on the severity of the schizophrenic symptoms, how often those symptoms flare up, and the patient’s access to treatment outside the hospital.
Schizophrenia Hospitalization: The First Visit
The first time someone with schizophrenia might go to the hospital is for the first psychotic episode. Once there, hospital staff will take plenty of tests; these will cover the patient’s psychiatric and psychological profiles, as well as a psychological assessment of their family.
Having your loved one in the hospital gives doctors the chance to closely observe them and prescribe the right medications. Your loved one wouldn’t get this kind of care on an outpatient basis, so the hospital is a good place for them to be.
For those with schizophrenia consider:
- Schizophrenia causes thinking that can be stressful and chaotic. For some, the hospital is calming
- The hospital provides access to important services like social and therapeutic supports
- The managed environment of a hospital ensures that your loved one takes her medications every day.
Once your loved one leaves the hospital, a treatment plan in her community will be necessary. Without treatment, the odds that she will return to the hospital are high.
Schizophrenia Hospitalization: Other Visits
Your loved one may return to the hospital to stabilize his or her medication. Drug abuse is a common occurrence with people with schizophrenia and may be another reason for a hospital stay. And if the schizophrenia becomes chronic, with times when the symptoms get out of hand, the hospital may be the best place for your loved one to be.
Schizophrenia: Voluntary vs. Involuntary Commitments
A person may choose to enter a hospital to control their symptoms. This is called voluntary hospitalization. There are also situations when a person with schizophrenia may be forced to go to the hospital. These are:
- Violence to others. Only a small percentage of people with schizophrenia are violent. People with schizophrenia who use drugs or alcohol are the most prone to violence.
- Suicide threat. Suicide risk is high. For a hospital to take the threat of suicide seriously, the person issuing it needs to have a plan, and the means to carry out the plan
Strict guidelines exist to determine who can be committed involuntarily to a hospital, and how long they can stay there. However, it’s important to remember that people who are forced into treatment may develop a sense of distrust for treatment providers and family members, which can delay recovery in the long run.
Voluntary commitment may also depend on whether you have the means to pay hospital costs. Under-funded public hospitals frequently deny services to people who do not quite meet the criteria of dangerousness outlined above.