Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Does Your SZ Family Member Have These Symptoms?

I’m asking because the nurse on the ICT team thought I meant trouble sleeping when I said my son had stopped sleeping. When I say stopped, I mean totally stopped - as in days without sleep. She seemed kind of surprised, so maybe it’s not a common SZ symptom?

Since we compare symptoms a lot, maybe this would be a good thread.

My two for today are:
– When they get acutely psychotic do they stop eating & sleeping completely? How long have them went without sleep?
As my son gets sicker, he goes from a healthy appetite & fairly normal sleep patterns to absolutely no sleep for days & pretty much doesn’t eat anything. He’s not starving himself - he’s just not hungry.

– Do they sometimes have a problem separating dreams from real life?
My son has had a dream that’s bothering him pretty bad - he says he can’t stop thinking about it and it was horrible. In it, there were lots of people, but I gave him a doll that was made of flesh. He was going to but it’s head off. His dad told him to stop. I said let him do it. So he did - and it was terrible. I asked him if he knew that I wasn’t really there, and he said I was there because he saw me.
In addition to not feeling tired, he says he’s afraid to sleep because he destroys the world in his dreams. I told him that wasn’t true because the world was still all around us. Not sure if he was buying that or not.

– Are bad dreams a side effect of Invega?


Well, I’m sure you know Sz is experienced in so many ways and reactions to medications are all over the place too. My son is 29. He has paranoid Sz. He gets the monthly invega Sustenna shot. He was diagnosed January of 2013. That’s just a short background. From what I understand, the sleeping issue is important. It’s apparently one of the first things to watch for if you suspect a relapse. I don’t want to be miss know-it-all LOL! This is what I’ve learned from reading etc. So a change in sleeping pattern should be noted and maybe report to his psych doc. Also, is it possible he’s using drugs, like speed? Also, has he only had one episode of psychosis and what was that like? Youre looking for similar things he did before. My son hasn’t experienced sleep problems since he’s been on the invega. But that doesn’t matter to you since it can be variable…All over the place. I can’t really answer your question about the dreams but you can literally Google anything and you’ll come up with information I’m sure, BUT again all over the damn place! I would say if he’s having horrific nightmares and he’s obsessing and scared and on top of it not sleeping at all, it’s time to speak to his doctor. Best of luck :pray:

My son is 27 - he had his first break at 15 - and it’s always precipitated by a few days of absolutely no sleep. His third break was the worst with a 10 day period of no sleep until they got him on a medication that would work.

He’s been somewhat stable since he was 18/19, but this past year or a little over has brought big changes for him. So, psychosis is not new to us - only the paranoid schizophrenic diagnosis.

He’s been to the hospital 3 times in the past 6 months - each time, he has asked to go get help after about 5 days of no sleep.

When they first put him on Invega, it was great - he had a week of 6 mg oral, a 234 mg shot, then a 156 mg shot all in the same week. He came home mildly delusional, it cleared in a few days, and he was pretty much perfect for about 2 weeks - then, the shot started to give out about a week before his next one was due (117 mg.)

The 117 mg was not enough to hold him and he landed back in the hospital before he could get the next one. Yes, I told the medical team. They told me to be patient.

In the hospital, they bumped his maintenance dose to 156 mg, put him on 12 mg oral, and sent him home after about 2 weeks. Once again, on day 20, it cuts out, he stops sleeping and eating. Maybe it wouldn’t have if the outpatient team didn’t tell me to stop giving him the pills.

Now, they won’t give him the shot a few days early, but said to give him 6 mg orally until Monday. That’s not nearly enough, so I’m going back to the 12 mg the hospital prescribed a few weeks ago. And, I think she only talked about taking the 6 mg because when she said just get the shot on Monday, I was quick to tell her that he’d be back in the hospital before Monday at the rate he was going.

I’m pretty fed up with them not giving him enough of the Invega because he has a long history of needing maximum dosage to maintain recovery. He sees a new doctor on Monday who is part of the Intensive Community Treatment program and I’ve been promised by the case manager that she is much more aggressive.

We’re at about 60 hours since he last slept right now & he’s not one bit tired. Before that, he slept about 5/6 hours after being up a little over 48 hours, so maybe he’ll sleep tonight.

As far as drugs go, he has no access to anything I don’t know about. We keep all medications in the house under lock & key and he doesn’t leave the house by himself. At this point, he has no friends near us or anyone else who would sneak something to him. I don’t see any way he could get speed, and I’ve even switched out all our coffee for decaf, although he doesn’t know that.


Yeah, 2 days without sleeping when he wouldn’t stop playing video games and he was severely psychotic nearly a year ago. His dreams are really important to him; if in a dream he sees a person, he’ll immediately want to contact them and say something inappropriate or random to them. If it’s an action, he’ll want to do it. But my fiancé’s not on Invega.

Wow! See?? Different for each! Ugh makes it so hard to manage! I would be pissed too :rage: Why can’t they or why won’t they understand their family knows their own better than they??? My son doesn’t tell anybody anything, including his so called treatment team!! I just recently found out (not from him) he doesn’t have a psychiatrist!! She’s moved on!! And hasn’t been replaced!! For God’s sake!!!

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When my son is starting to head toward an acute psychotic state, the first indicator is lack of sleep. He tries lots of things to put himself to sleep, such as turning the air conditioning on super low to chill his bedroom. He just can’t fall asleep.

He eats more during the non-sleep nights. He establishes a pattern of chilling his apartment, trying to sleep, getting up to eat and trying all over again.

I always feel for him, he will have established somewhat regular daytime hours and be doing fairly better than the bad days. Without warning, the sleeplessness starts and soon after the acute psychosis shows up. For him the lack of sleep is how we know he is about to get worse.


Slw, it does sound to me like relapse. My sons doctor says this.
– When they get acutely psychotic do they stop eating & sleeping completely? Yes, almost at the same time. The most my son has gone without sleep that I can remember is three nights and days. He will take baths nonstop then go to bed but not sleep. He’s trying to relax but unable to sleep.

– Do they sometimes have a problem separating dreams from real life? In my opinion the more delusional they become the harder it is for them to make that comparison. When they are better than can sometime question it.

My son has had similarly horrible dreams and when he was really sick said his food tasted like flesh and he couldn’t eat it.

My son has said that his medicine does make him have weird dreams. I hope things smooth out for all of us soon. Take care


If he doesn’t go to sleep beforehand (he’s trying), he’ll be at the 3-day mark in about 6 hours.

Last night, he didn’t let me get much sleep. I have my own problems in that area, so I probably fell asleep about 1 AM, then he woke me up at 3 AM and again at 4 AM. At that point, I might as well just have got up.

I’m worried about him, incredibly angry at the doctor, and I’m operating on very little sleep. I think tomorrow at work I’m just not going to talk to anyone - the slightest thing will probably make me go off on someone.

It doesn’t help that I’ve had a flat tire & a speeding ticket this week.


I cannot relate to no sleep with my son and his schizophrenia because for years his problem was too much sleep,in the beginning it seemed all he did was sleep as much as maybe 17-20 hours a day,now he averages 11-12…but in all honesty…no sleep at all is life threatening as I am sure you already know…treatment for that (I would venture to say) has to be non negotiable…have you tried simple diphenhydramine (Benedryl) ? It is a fairly safe yet sedating allergy medicine. I did find an interesting article though from a clinical website about sleeplessness and schizophrenia…I hope it helps.


My brother and daughter both with sz – they couldn’t sleep and eat at all, while psychosis was worsening.
I know one person with just one bad episode of psychosis (it happened at an older age – in mid thirties – once and never came back) – in this case same thing: barely any sleep and could not eat
With the sleep it was extreme tension. Rather wanted to sleep and rest, but could not fall asleep at all. In this case though the person didn’t have sz and knew something was wrong.

Benadryl seems to have no effect on him whether he’s acutely psychotic or not.
And, since it’s safe to give your dog 1 benadryl per 10 pounds of body weight, we’ve given him a little benadry and a lot of benadryl. We might as well give him sugar pills.

Same with ambien & a ton of other more traditional sleep meds.

When the right anti-psychotic kicks in, it does wonders.

I do think that at some point we might want to address sleep on it’s own.
When he was an infant, I think the chart said he should sleep 16 hours a day & be alert 8 hours a day. He had that backwards & never really slept much. Even the day he was born he was wide awake for the longest time.
I didn’t think about it much when he was little because his father doesn’t sleep much either - nor does much of that whole family.

I used to sleep very well, but that kind of stopped when he was born. I have chronic insomnia now too, but I have to get some sleep every day or I feel awful.

Edit: Yay!!! He’s sleeping soundly. I have no idea when he went to sleep, but it’s a step in the right direction. He was wide asleep at about midnight, so that’s close to 72 hours without sleep.

And, he was up & wide awake again within an hour of me checking, but it’s a start.


It’s sort of like we have a baby and you have to sleep when he sleeps, isn’t it. I hope you get some rest too. My husband and I take a low dose of melatonin 5 mg. One hour before bedtime. I can’t imagine it working any better than Benadryl though. I hope you guys have a good day today.

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Seroquel is sedative in low doses. I just read that Ambien actually contributes to psychosis in some people.

Sleep is so incredibly important.


Rest was one reason why I was an advocate of Zyprexa for my son. Within one hour he slept all through the night and woke up well rested. That was before he decided he didn’t like it and didn’t need it. He doesn’t like it he says it causes motor problems

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Unfortunately, Seroquel was never effective for him and after a 8/9 year run, Zyprexa no longer works for him.

He did like Seroquel for a short time because it gave him a mellow almost-high, but that was about it.


It’s been a while since I have been on the website. Too much going on with my daughter. She is in the mental hospital now. She always goes without sleep and very little food before a bad episode. She has gone as long as 5 days without sleep. When she starts going without sleep after a couple days, the professionals don’t seem interested. I didn’t know this was common w/schizophrenia - evidently they don’t either. They don’t try to help her with her sleep problems. Her reasons are that she is afraid to go to sleep because she might die. She’s in for a long stay this time (finally) after being committed 3 times in just over a month. When she’s in the hospital she sleeps each night.


Yes, it has been my experience with my husband that an interrupted sleep pattern is usually the beginning of a psychotic break. When he is up wandering around the house all night, I know it’s coming. As for appetite, I have not noticed much change in that unless it is apart of his psychosis where he thinks people are poisoning him. Good Luck to you and your son.

My daughter also gets very little sleep when she is psychotic. Before she was diagnosed, she told me she was sleeping two hours a night at the most, and I thought she was exaggerating, until I realized she really was sleeping that little. Her appetite goes down too, because her delusions tell her that food is poison.

I hope your son got some rest.

Oh, and I wanted to add that dreams and hallucinations are very much tied together for her. Most of her hallucinations and the voices she hears start out with a nightmare, and then they stick around.

He got into the alcohol & drank probably a pint’s worth down straight yesterday afternoon, passed out cold in my bedroom within an hour for a little over 8 hours, then stayed up all night and woke me up begging to go get his shot.

He was willing to take some of his oral Invega & have some breakfast, but he’s pacing & smoking like crazy. He says he’s scared to sleep in his room because someone might come shoot him, but he’s calming down now that I’m up. I told him we’d watch Trailer Park Boys or something equally stupid & silly on Netflix & count down the hours until his appt on Monday morning - or if he got scared enough, he could say the word & we’d go to the hospital.

I’m going to try to make sure he stays up all day if the oral meds kick in & let him sleep in my bedroom upstairs tonight if he can make it.

I seriously think this could all have been prevented if they had given him his shot last Wed. - or, if they’d just admit Invega is not going to work for him and try something else.

We’ve got just under 49 hours to make it through before we leave for his doctor’s appt on Monday.

Poor guy - he said, I can’t even go on vacation anymore. I told him he needed to get a little better, then we could talk about a vacation. He said, you know, this is as good as it ever gets. I don’t think that’s true, but it just shows how miserable he is lie this.

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