Does my family member have schizophrenia or not?

I have a close family member(A) that I believe may have schizophrenia. He has been hospitalized once, a couple years ago for strange behavior. In public, he was not speaking to anyone but getting in front of people and staring at them. Since then, he has described how certain organizations were after him. At first, he described corruption in the local area and how they were targeting him. More recently, he has mentioned how the government is targeting him. Recently, he also said that his neighbors were harassing him and kept making loud noises to keep him awake late in the night. My guess is that these loud noises were hallucinations or a by-product of the extreme sensitivity of the senses that happens in schizophrenia. He also mentioned how his neighbors were cursing at him though the walls and harassing him. He also said that there were “rumblings”. Since then, he has come to stay with me and another close family member (B) and does not experience any more of the distressing noises. A, however, has not opposed his earlier views that he has been targeted by the government.

Another difficult issue, however, is that the other close family member (B), one senior to me in age, is not acknowledging the possibility of schizophrenia or any other mental problems for A. B actually believes that A is being harassed and targeted by the government, and also believes some of the other bizarre things that A has described (including that A is targeted by the government and using psychotropic weapons). B, and A, become very irritable when I state that I don’t believe the government is targeting A. I stated to B that we should take A to see some sort of psychotherapist, but B opposes the idea.

A, however seem to be functioning quite healthily otherwise. A has a steady job where he is successful. A also gets out in public about every day. I don’t believe I can do much now, especially without the cooperation of B. I would like the three of us to go to a mental health professional, but the other two oppose the idea. I’m hoping that, with time and reflection, B will start to understand the possibility of schizophrenia for A and join me in giving A the best support A needs.

I am employed, but somewhat financially dependent on A (and B). In the meantime, my plan is to become more financially independent of A and B so that I can make the best decisions without fear of financial retribution.

Thanks for your time in reading my post. Does this sound like schizophrenia or could it be other mental issues? Please let me know if you have any advice or insight in doing what is best for A, B, and me.

Get A to a doctor, pronto. The earlier it is caught the better. From what I have heard the earlier the sz (schizophrenic) person gets treatment generally the better the outcome. It seems to me (from what I have read) many people with sz can continue to function well for even years. However when they crash they crash.

I was caught pretty much the day the hallucinations started. I was seeing a psych dr for depression. He said OCD and then when I had my first hallucination (I think I was in to see him the next day. I don’t remember. That entire year is sort of blurry to me now) my dr said sz and that a hallucination was all he was waiting for to make that diagnosis.

I am doing incredibly well now. I am in college, have a fiancee, ect… I realize that this is pretty normal stuff for any healthy person, but college and relationships can be hard for us. Yes accepting this disease is hard. It’s hard to acknowledge that normal things will be harder for them but refusing to accept these problems or potential problems just limits his future.

A good doctor (usually that means expensive) is very important if he can afford it. I don’t really think (but then again I have absolutely no clue about any of this) that his ability to preform his job would really be hindered by getting treatment. After getting the treatment and therapy I needed over my last year of high school (and then I moved and had a horrible doctor for two or more years so I can attest that is a big factor). After changing to a much better doctor who was responsive to the med changes I needed I turned right around.

This is in no way an endorsement of a particular drug but I was put on two anti depressants (I am sza- schizoaffective. Depression + schizophrenia where both are an equally big problem) and an antipsycotic (geodon) I got so much better. I am actually functioning better than I ever have in my life. However I must offset that with the fact that I was severely depressed for my entire life leading up to when I started seeing this ‘new’ doctor (I am using the quote marks because I have been seeing him for three or four years now and the change has been incredible).

Thanks so much for your story and point of view as one who has struggled with sz. I really appreciate you reaching out and giving me advice about these issues.

I would like to get him to a psychotherapist and psychiatrist as soon as possible but my family member B is not supportive of the idea. It is basically only B and me that are the only practical family support for A. And both B and A are adamantly opposed to getting any psychological help for A at this point. I think my only real option is to wait it out and hope that B becomes supportive of the idea of seeking psychological help for A.

I believe too that it is important to get treatment as early as possible. I did not and crashed completely. I forgot everything while in psychosis. I forgot how to cook and pay my bills. I had to learn everything from start again. I was gone from work for two years. Then I started slowly with 2 hours/week. But I was a boss when I became ill. I am no more. I have simple floor job. No need to think or problem solving. I can’t manage my old job, that I loved so much.

Maybe you just have to wait and see if B changes his mind. Maybe put som information about sz in the bathroom. Ppl usually grabs something to read while in there. I was ill for a year or more before I was hospitalized. I functioned at work, but I also had a lot of sick days. Days when I was too paranoid to go to work. I drugged myself with morphine to cope. But I could not go to work drugged.

It does sound serious for your family member, but you might get more support from the other family by mentioning that there are other things that can cause what you describe…

We don’t have to go for the top of the charts worst diagnosis.

A stress triggered nervous break down… any other problems that can cause psychosis. (there are more then just Sz)

(I like to reefer to this article when people are completely resistant to getting any sort of help.)

Yes it does sound very serious for your loved one who is suffering. I’m sure he’s trying to hold on and make sense of his mind. I’m sure he might be very afraid to get help for fear of getting this diagnosis. It’s not an easy label to live with…

Job Security / Insurance
Family Support
Understanding can all get pretty ugly when this word gets attached to your life.

I could see people being afraid to get help for fear of getting this diagnosis.
Maybe reassure everyone that there are other things that can cause his behavior and getting help early is the best way to start healing.

Good luck

These things tend to be on a spectrum of severity , while A is working and is successful , I would leave it. Psychosis of the schiz kind usually means that a person can not function socially , this does not seem to be the case with A. While A is working and holding down a job , possibly without meds , then A is not at the state of schiz. If A goes onto develop serious dysfunction then you may need to go the pdoc route.

It would be hard to tell without seeing a doctor. Maybe this was just a one time thing related to stress.
keep an eye on him-and work on getting independent financially
…Good luck

Thank you all so much for your advice and support! I have a much better idea of the possibilities of what may be going on with A. Hopefully I can get the best help for him soon. Please let me know if you have anything more you’d like to share.

I have an update, please let me know what advice anybody may have.

I’m currently living with B, it’s just the two of us as roommates. Recently, B has been very irritable during discussions and seems to be closed off to what my views are. He can be mean and aggressive and it becomes like I am talking to a wall. The following situation is an example of how significant a problem this can be:

A few days ago, I bought the book “Surviving Schizophrenia” and placed it on the table in the kitchen in hopes that B may want to read it and gain some insight into what was going on with A. We then proceeded to have a discussion about whether or not A had exhibited symptoms of sz(schizophrenia). This discussion was much less than fruitful because B did not stay reasonably on topic and brought up alternate issues. He was trying to discredit the book and information on sz, even though he knew very little about the specific symptoms of sz. B mentioned that “they” were trying to discredit A, even though no one but me mentioned that A may be portraying symptoms of sz. He also became extremely aggressive.

After he began to curse during our discussion I mentioned that I did not want to speak any more and proceeded to leave. He followed me and got in my way. I said that he made me very uncomfortable. I tried to escape by going into the bathroom and locking the door. Because the door was, unfortunately, not completely shut. He barged in and stared at me while blocking the doorway. He yelled at me while not letting me out of the bathroom. I tried to leave the bathroom but he forcefully kept me in. I asked to leave. He still proceeded to yell at me and became more agitated. He started yelling “They almost killed (A)!” over and over again. I was extremely uncomfortable and had little options. I chose to yell “help!” and luckily the neighbors came and asked what was going on. At this point, B finally let me out of the bathroom.

This behavior by B is unacceptable. Is this behavior by B a sign of any mental illness? What recommendations do you guys have? This is a difficult situation and I appreciate all your help.

I’m sorry you are in a tough spot. Sounds to me as B has caught A’s psychosis.

I’ve heared that psychosis can be “catched” by another person. Especially when living close to each other. I don’t remember what it is called. But person A with psychotic episode can make person B belive his/her delusions and B “catches” the psychosis. But it will be easily managed by separating them. Then B will go back to normal.

it’s called a follie a duex.

I had a few cousin who has schizophrenia or Bipolar,I think I can relate to them

It is possible that B is experiencing follie a duex with A.

It is possible that A has some form of psychosis or paranoid personality.

A diagnoses by a professional would be ideal.

Above is a link to how to deal with psychosis.

How the first aider can be supportive

You should always treat the person with respect.

You should try to empathize with how the person feels about their beliefs and experiences, without stating any judgments about the content of those beliefs and experiences.

You should understand that the person may be behaving and talking differently due to psychotic symptoms.

You should recognize that the person who may be experiencing psychosis may find it difficult to tell what is real from what is not real.

You should avoid confronting the person and should not criticize or blame them.

You should understand the symptoms for what they are and should try not to take them personally.

You should not use sarcasm when interacting with a person who may be experiencing psychosis.

You should avoid using patronizing statements when interacting with a person who may be experiencing psychosis.

You should be honest when interacting with the person and should not make them any promises that cannot be kept.

How the first aider should deal with delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations (perceiving things that are not real)

You should recognize that the delusions and/or hallucinations are very real to the person.

You should not dismiss, minimize, or argue with the person about their delusions and/or hallucinations.

You should not act alarmed, horrified, or embarrassed by the person’s hallucinations or delusions.

You should not laugh at the person’s symptoms of psychosis.

If the person exhibits paranoid behavior, the first aider should not encourage or inflame the person’s paranoia.

While I understand that you are trying to help A and B however expecting either one of them to come around to your way of thinking may not happen without professional outside help.

I would very much like for both A and B to seek professional help. I’ve mentioned it but they both are staunchly opposed and become even more aggressive than they usually are. I am unable to do anything to steer them in that direction at this point.

Thanks, Barbie, for the list of recommendations for dealing with one with possible psychosis. I’ve followed these pretty well and do not remember any instance where I’ve failed to follow one of these rules.

At this point, I am trying to separate myself from too much necessary involvement with both A and B. They aren’t completely out of touch, but they tend to be aggressive and condescending and are not very enjoyable or inspiring to be around. If anyone has any more ideas of how I can help both A and B, please let me know. Again, I appreciate everyone’s support.

And by the way, I’m planning on moving out from my living situation with B. Both A and B are planning on living together solely. It’s probably not good for them to be together, but I’m unable to influence decisions that they make. I’m just relieved to be able to separate myself from the two of them and be around more positive people.

I identify with your predicament. My brother recently described paranoid delusions, though he is functioning otherwise. My two closest family members (father and another brother) aren’t supportive in getting him to seek treatment as they also don’t believe in the mental health profession and also believe in conspiracy theories. I don’t know what to do about it either.

I’m assuming A and B are blood relations. You know that siblings and other relations of those with sz often share many of the symptoms, but if they are mild and manageable (not that lovely term “florid”), they will be able to manage their lives. I think the best thing for you to do is sort out your own income, accommodation, etc and let them get on with it. That way if either or both decide they need help you will be in a position to give it. At the moment you are just enduring lots of unproductive anxiety - a huge time and energy suck.

Hey ConcernedSis, it sounds like we’re both going through very similar situations. What’s helped me a lot is doing more in-depth research into schizophrenia and psychosis to find out more precisely what they are and precisely what they are not. An excellent book that I’ve started with is Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual.

Me and everyone else on here are here to support you and help you find out what’s best to do for your loved ones. I’m currently seeking independence and think that I will better able support A and B that way. I hope the best for you, your brother, and other family members.

Thanks for the advice Hatty. I think that’s a good plan too.

And you assure them that the government is not singling them out they are screwing us all equally.