Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

First break - 20 year old son

We took my son to the emergency room yesterday. Up until Monday he was away at college but he finally opened up and confessed to me that the reason he had been struggling in school and in life was due to the voice in his head that’s been tormenting him for the past few years. He is being admitted and they will start him on risperidone and possibly fluoxetine for his depression and anxiety.

We are starting on a new path and I’m terrified for him and not sure what to expect. I am also in shock as this is all happening so quickly and all of my hopes and expectations for his life have been turned on their side. I know that I need to remain optimistic and that there are great meds and treatments out there but I also know that this is going to be an arduous and bumpy road we are about to embark on.

It feels like he’s in the right place; they will keep him in the hospital for about a week and then help us find him outpatient programs to help him through this time. However I would love to hear any thoughts or things you’ve learned that might help us through this period of adjustment and on the road to follow.


I am so sorry that this has happened to your son.

My personal key phrase is prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. Read Dr Fuller Torrey’s " Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual" So glad you found this site so quickly. There are a lot of good people and a lot of good information on this forum.

Sign up for your local NAMI’s Family to Family course. Its free. Try to get everyone in your family to attend each session. Sign your son up for NAMI’s Peer to Peer classes - often they run concurrently.

Schizophrenia cycles, he will have more difficult times and easier times even on meds. The tricky part is that they will often decide they don’t need meds under both circumstances. Keep him on meds.

Welcome and sorry you have to be here. hope


@Mom63 I agree with @hope - You are super lucky to have found this forum so early on. This is one of the best places for support and advice, in addition to the book and NAMI group that Hope recommended. Is your son willing to take the meds? It sounds like it - which is a definite plus for you as well. I have been on here a year. My son’s delusions started at 20 with his first break 2 years ago. He is now 28. In May, had him in the hospital for 3 weeks and then he went to a transition house for another 3 before coming home to live with me. He is on invega monthly shot (court ordered) and working 55 hours a week - seems pretty “normal” to me now. I really think, in addition to the meds, that the transition home got him back on track. It was definitely a rough ride and I hope not to go through it again.

We all feel your sadness over the loss of the life we wanted our loved ones to have. You will likely go through the stages similar to grieving. Hang in there - the life he is experiencing is his journey and you may be surprised that on meds he hopefully will get more clear every day.


Hello, I am sorry your son has developed this illness.

The best current treatment centers for first episode psychosis can be found in the link:

I hope there is one near you.


Getting him treatment after his 1st psychotic break increases his chances of recovery. So, in a way, you are lucky to have “caught this early.”

And I agree w Hope. “Surviving Schizophrenia” by Dr. Tory is an excellent resource. It was my bible when I was the caregiver to my Sz loved one.


I am so sorry your family is going through this!
We have been going through a similar realization about my son the last few years. It is definitely a knd of mourning.

The biggest thing for me has been to learn really to enjoy any times of connectedness or shared enjoyment. Those times can get you theough a lot.

I also spent a lot of time reading old threads on this forum. It gave me so much insight into what our son may be experiencing.

Best wishes!!!

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There might be a lot more that he is dealing with internally, silently.
Continue to be the trustworthy ally and source of calm, even temperment he needs. It’s possible that there is a lot of chaos and inner turmoil happening for him.
It’s likely that his treatment is just beginning. And 99% of the work falls on his shoulders alone. If he chooses to trust his doctors and follow their recommendations, understand that alone might be a battle for him to struggle with every day. If he chooses not to, understand that the disorder is neither your fault, nor his.

Take the time to reach out to the people closest to you. Seek a sympathetic ear when you need it, or a helping hand with things.
Whether or not you have support from those close to you,
We are all in your corner, cheering for you and your son!
Please lean on us whenever you need to.
Every support system needs a support system!


Thank you all so much. Spent some time with him at the hospital today. He is in a locked unit but they seem to be really on top of things. Already met the social worker and she’s going to set up a family meeting for us tomorrow and then we work on the plan and learn what they think the diagnosis is.

I did get lucky finding this forum early. I happened to be googling about a medication and found a link to one of these threads. I will lurk and read and learn what I can and really appreciate all of your insight. Luckily I do have a good support system with my partner and friends. One day at a time


I’m sorry this has happened to your son and your family. Adjusting your expectations will take time and is a challenging task. If there is a. First Episode Psychosis program in your area, I would highly recommend that you get your son involved in it. NAMI is a great resource for you as well. I was in your shoes 3 years ago with my then 21 year old son. He needed to leave school but did go back later and finished his degree last spring. He has a job with a family owned business and recently moved into an apartment with a friend. Things aren’t perfect or the way I had hoped for him but he seems satisfied with his life and is relatively stable and for that I am very grateful. I do hope that your son responds well to treatment and gets back to his life soon.


Thank you so much @TAG. Your note gives me hope. The hospital he is at has an integrated program with the social worker coordinating inpatient care and outpatient planning. I am hopeful they will help us on the right path.


I would agree with @Jan. Getting treatment fast is key and can stop our children getting worse. Positive outcomes like @TAG experienced for her son are then more likely. I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it but from my perspective - treatment for my son was delayed and he had more pyschotic breaks - you are lucky. Hope things go well for your son.

I wanted to update that my son is doing well on Seroquel and says his “voice” is gone. I am also relieved to report that they are currently leaning towards a diagnosis of depression with psychotic features instead of schizophrenia. Anyone have experience with this condition?

Thanks again for your input


That is brilliant. One of my son’s friends had a psychotic episode, it was caught early, he took medication for a short while and then slowly, slowly came off. He has been medication and psychosis free for about four years now. Hope its the same for your son.


I have that. A tiny does of Seroquel and regular dose of anti-depressants took away my psychosis.

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Thank you for sharing. That’s amazing for you and hopeful for my son. Peace

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Also the book “schizophrenia for dummies” is an awesome book. I have loaned it to friends who thought my son just needed a kick in the ass. I often go back and read it.

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It has been more than half year since you posted. I would like to know how is your son doing. Is he still on seroquel? What dose did it stop the voice? My son started to hear voice last year when he was 16. It has been a year now, he still refuse to take medicine. I might need to get police involve to take him to the hospital.

This is a devastating diagnosis, and three years later, I’m still in disbelief that this has happened to our son and our family. It’s very sad. Some days are better than others. It’s a struggle. However, once stabilized our son is doing very well. It’s not quite what we wanted or hoped for, but he’s happy and he’s doing productive things. He may never go to college, and he may end up off his meds again, but for now he’s doing well. That’s what I’ve learned - try to be happy about the small things and celebrate the going well parts, try not to get too bogged down by what could or could not happen in the future. I’m so sorry for you but it sounds like your son might actually be someone who does not have anosognosia and can understand that he has this disease. That to me is by far the best prognosis. Get him early intervention and help. You are on the right path.

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