Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Disordered Speech

Hello all - I’m new here and am looking for some information. I have been married to my lovely wife for 30 years - unfortunately she has spent the last 14 years or so suffering from severe chronic migraine. That is a whole story in and of itself and is not the reason I’m here but feel I need to preface this with that information.

In the past seven years or so she will on an average of 3 to 4 times a year get disordered speech which until recently I thought was a symptom of part of a severe migraine attack. In looking this up in the past and knowing nothing about this I would always run the search as “garbled speech” and would get generalized info on stroke or hemipelagic migraine. Recently she has had two episodes of this in the past two weeks which prompted me to look this up again but this time I described what I was seeing in the search and came up with disordered speech. I was able to watch YouTube videos of patients doing this and it is exactly what she does. I.E. changing subject mid sentence going from one topic to another which are totally unrelated.

My concern is that this symptom only seems to be associated with schizophrenia and nothing else. At least in my web research. I did just finish reading a book on schizophrenia and in learning about it I can say that she has no other of the symptoms like seeing things, hallucinations, talking to entities, etc. She just does the disordered speech.

I will say that when she does do it - it is quite disturbing to watch or try to talk to her. It usually lasts for one to two hours - she falls asleep and whenever she wakes up is back to normal.

I guess what I want to know is if this could be something else other than schizophrenia? Has anyone here had a loved one diagnosed with schizophrenia and this is the only symptom? I have brought this symptom up to her PCM (describing what she does)and it was quickly brushed aside as nothing to worry about. Well I’m worried and the first of our three kids is getting married next January and I’m wondering if the stress of that might be why this is starting back up - it’s been well over 9 months since the last time she did this.

What do you all think? How can I even bring this up to her in the context of schizophrenia?

Thanks for listening…


That you know of, only docs and meds man, maybe yall can get lucky and find a brain tumor as you dont want SZ. Her age?

Hi Dave,

Women go through hormonal changes, particularly more so as they age. One of the lesser known “side effects” is that these hormonal changes can cause temporary loss of words or train of thought.

Also, a wedding in the works is an event that can have her multi-tasking and keeping her with two trains of thought running at all times.

You have checked with her doctor and the doctor says it’s fine. You can press for more tests to rule out other possibilities such as a brain tumor.

Be supportive and try to keep up without making her feel frustrated. Personally, in my own hormonal experience, I would change out words for totally different words. My entire sentence would make sense except for one word. My advice for my husband was “if you can figure it out, you don’t need to point it out”.

My son who does have schizophrenia, when his speech has been disordered he is saying words that are unrelated to each other and it makes no sense whatsoever. He will become frustrated as he believes he is actually speaking correctly. My son has many other symptoms as well. In particular he hears voices which is considered by experts to be the hallmark of a schizophrenia diagnosis.

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My son with SZ (primarily “negative” symptoms and catatonia) also had what is called Formal Thought Disorder that eventually went away (either his brain healed or medication resolved it or both). This is a good description of FTD: ( and specifically includes this as one of the bullet points:

“Abnormalities in language are common in the general population, in everyday conversation. Thus, the categorical presence or absence of the following language problems is not absolutely diagnostic of any condition. However, heightened frequency and severity of these problems should be noted by the physician and accounted for in the patient’s diagnostic formulation.”

You could also look it up at this site which is useful to get more info for ANY medical and mental illness. I have used it many times but I don’t recall what might be there as related to FTD:

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I’ve seen similar issues in people with bipolar disorder. Are you talking about ‘word salad’ which is loosely associated words that don’t make much sense? Or what I’ve heard called fluid association which is rapid speech which flits from topic to topic with associations only the speaker fully understands? My brother with bipolar disorder does the latter, sometimes with a sort of rythmic cadence.

Edit:. I’ve had odd migraine symptoms like olfactory hallucinations, but a brain tumor or ministrokes sound like possibilities too. I’d start to lean on a specialist rather than a PCM in your situation.


Hi Dave. Glad to hear from you. Everybody already hit on all my first thoughts reading your post: don’t rely on the GP, find a specialist. A neurologist maybe? Seems chronic debilitating migraines lasting for that many years with no known cause seems reason enough for me to make an appointment. Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA’s or “ministrokes”) would concern me. Tumors or bacterial infections also can cause behavior or cognitive changes. Obviously, all of these can be life threatening. All of which I’d feel warrant a closer look by a specialist if it was happening to me. And I probably wouldn’t wait, and that’s just to be safe. In fact, I’ll stress that. Obviously there’s a very real, sudden change in cognitive function that you, the person I assume is closest to her, has observed first hand. That should be a red flag for any healthcare professional. I wouldn’t ignore that. I’d find a neurologist that took my insurance and try to get an appointment as soon as possible.
Hope- interesting about the hormones. I never knew this. Thank you for that. Worth looking into… (the type of specialist that deals specifically with this system of the body, known as the endocrine system, is an ‘Endocrinologist’. Just a little FYI. This type of specialist though can be hard to find as they tend to be few and far in between)
Keep us posted let us know what you find. Information shared is knowledge gained, and the more we have, the more we are able to help each other and be supportive of each other. Best of luck.

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Thanks all for the info - she gets an MRI Wednesday so I suppose we’ll see if anything like a tumor/stroke is going on. I will keep you posted. Just for clarification - the symptom she is exhibiting is that she will change topic mid sentence and then start going from topic to topic - non of which are related. When it is happening it can be very hard to understand her.


I would have her primary physician check her out completely and I hope it’s nothing that can’t be managed. Often psychiatric symptoms can be answered through diagnosing a physical anomaly. Not always, but better check that first and then if they find nothing I would make the next step the psychiatrist. Or, maybe first a “second opinion” from another doctor and then a psychiatrist. I wish you well.

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Last night:


Dear Dave,

My daughter has schizophrenia and what you described does not sound familiar. Has she been checked for brain tumor or could this be a reaction to medicine . I would push your doctor to investigate this much more and if they are not willing ask for another doctor. This does not sound like schizophrenia to me…but I am not a doctor. Hang in there.

I am relatively new to this forum and have posted a few things related to my schizophrenic brother. I know you have been on this forum for a while. Is your wife on medication? Most of your videos seem to show that she is still delusional/hearing voices? My brother does something with his hands also but not similar to what your wife does. Is she in a separate part of the house from you?

A Shit load, dont work, well it helps some

Abilify ruined her…

oh yes, I leave on weekends to a second home in the city with my GF…

You speak so kindly and calmly to your wife @GSSP… I do admire you.


Thyroid problems can be a major contributor to mental issues.


Interesting link! Oddly… I was just thinking about thyroid the other day when another thread briefly pointed out hormone issues causing similar symptoms. Thanks for the post!

(Correction: the hormone link was this thread)

And the older crowd can show signs of dementia and confusion from a simple UTI - so many possibilities

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I was thinking back on this and it does somewhat remind me of something that my MI partner has a tendency to do. He will have a hard time staying on topic and will answer simple direct questions with long ambiguous statements that seemingly have little or nothing to do with the posed question or even the topic. He will jump topics or make loose association statements that can be very hard to follow and statements are often incomplete or without context if I don’t search around for it. He will often also become argumentative or just downright contradictory when trying to have a basic conversation. It almost seems impulsive. Or maybe defensive. The discussion can be about something as benign as the color of the sky and that it’s up or that rain is wet. I think he thinks it’s him somehow having an interesting meaningful conversation. Hard to say.
I hope things went well for you guys this week and you were able to find some answers.

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The migraine followed by garbled speech indicates a neurological issue…When she garbles her speech is she aware of it, is it hard to keep focus on a topic or trail of the convo because of the migraine or because of her thought process?

The chronic migraine is something to be discussed and tested further by a doctor, some brain scans would answer alot of questions that come from your description.

Absent a neurological issue (and it is certainly appropriate to get that checked out), disorganized speech IS a fairly common symptom of schizophrenia. A search of “disordered speech” on the NIMH website came up with this: