Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

HELP! Son is having mental breakdown and i don't know what to do

So I came back home last night for the first time to stay and my daughter and grandsons are with me. My son hasn’t slept in over ten nights. He is in the middle of a break. He is talking but not making sense. He will sit up and stare at the corner and then start speaking words but they don’t form a logical sentence. He is not eating. Not smoking his cigarettes. He has a look of confusion on his face. I’m scared. I’ve called his mdoc and he said that he suggested to stop his Effexor and start depacote. But I told him that he hasn’t been taking Effexor and doesn’t have depacote to take. He said that if he is unwilling to go to our local psychiatric hospital to be evaluated then there was nothing else I could do.

I can’t take anymore. My body is worn out. I can’t stop crying. How can I help my son? How can I take care of myself? I’ve never been this lost. Is there a hotline I can call to get advice? I’m slipping away and not sure how or if I can keep holding on.

God please help me!!!


1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

hotline open ten to six Eastern Time on weekdays


At this point, he is a danger to himself.

Not sleeping for 10 days is a medical emergency. My son was sleeping 4 hours out of 48 for 8 days last time he went in the hospital. His adrenaline was pumping so hard, and his heart rate & blood pressure were so high, that they had to take him through the medical part of the ER before they would take him to psychiatric.

Not eating is not being able to care for himself & protect himself from harm.

You need to get him to the ER. If they can’t see that this is an emergency this time, then someone needs to knock some sense into their head. Maybe you even call 911 and ask for an ambulance for a mental health emergency. Tell them he’s not violent, but he hasn’t slept in 10 days, isn’t eating and shows disorganized thought patterns.

He needs to be inpatient sooner rather than later.

In Virginia, they would say he’s gravely disabled and lacked the mental capacity to consent to treatment, so they would consent for him. I know you’re pretty far from Virginia, but not so far it makes it impossible. If you get desperate & make the trip, insist on him being evaluated by a community service board member for an involuntary hold.



My heart is breaking for you and your son. I agree with slw. 10 days is a medical emergency. My son disappeared for 5 days in the woods with no food, water (he found some), no money, no cell, and in slippers. When he came back to civilization on his own, the cops were called and were asked to have a mental health professional come evaluate him. They took him to the ER and from there I told them if they released him he would die. He will go back out into the woods (he doesn’t like to be around any people when ill) and he would die out there and it would be on them. That met the “threat to himself or others” criteria they needed to hold him. When they wanted to let him out after 10 days (still no insight into illness and I knew he would stop taking meds), I told them again, he won’t live. They got the judge involved and they ordered a 6 month mandatory hold on him. Saved his life. Your son is in grave danger of not living much longer and they need to know this. Keep saying it to everyone you talk to on the phone or in person. I hope you get him in for his sake and yours. We’re here for you. I’m so sorry. This is so painful but keep fighting. ~~ hugs ~~


I agree he is a danger to himself at this point. Sometimes the medical community is not in agreement but what we learned this spring is to tell the doctor, IF something dire happens, please remember you were the last medical professional contacted.
This is heartbreaking and I am so sorry for you.


I’m starting to question his new med Vraylar. That is the only thing that has been changed in the past 3 weeks. I have never seen him like this in the entire 10 years he’s had this brain disorder.


Some meds cause insomnia in some people, and anyone who goes 10 days without sleeping is going to show the symptoms your son is showing - whether they had a mental illness or not.

I, personally, would take this opportunity to get him into the hospital where they can try new meds under observation, but you could be right. It could be the Vraylar.


This is what I woke up to this morning. Well, I only cat napped last night. My son is still not right. He is still acting so different. He has been laying in my bed the last couple nights. Scared to leave my side. Such a change in him!! He has even went from being a pack a day smoker to not smoking at all!! Which don’t get me wrong, I’ll take that but it’s just so out of character for him.

I feel like I’m slowly losing my grip on reality and the ability to take care of my own self. So overwhelmed. Why did God afflict my life and my son’s life with such pain? Trying to hold on. I’m so scared!!

Please pray for us!!


I’ve had nights where the only way my son could get a few hours of sleep is if we laid in the same bed & I held his hand the whole time. Usually, it’s when he thinks he’s dying and I tell him I’ll hold his hand so if something happens, it will wake me up.

I’d worry about the not smoking too, because of the drastic, out-of-character change.

You need to start suggesting that he goes to the hospital when the opportunity arises.

Casually though - like, would you like to go to the hospital where it’s safe? Should we go to the hospital to see if they can give you something to help you sleep?

I absolutely never thought my son would ever say he wanted to go to the hospital, but when it gets really bad like that, eventually, he’ll say yes - or he’ll even ask to go.

But, at least your son is sleeping. That’s a good thing.

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Here are some of the resources on our site on how to get the best care for your son:

and specifically this page:

How to Force the System to Give You or Your Family Member Better Care

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I dont know what to do about my son, he is currently wandering the streets, when i tried to get the police to pick him up they do but then let him go again. They say it has to be a life and death situation where he is threatening someone else or himself. I say that since he is wandering the streets , not eating , and not sleeping he is a danger to himself, but the police and hospitals dont see it that way. He used to be such a clean man, showered and brushed his teeth everyday. I am sure he has not had a shower or a decent meal in quite some time. I keep putting out missing persons reports on him and the police pick him up and let him go, they once took him to hospital but let him go again. I live on the other side of the country from where he currently is and asked the police to hang on to him till i get there which will be tomorrow. No they cant do that either. It is so frustrating and i am so worried , that he may have hurt himself etc. My son is 24 and the police say they have offered to take him to a mens shelter but he has refused so there is nothing they can do. He is obviously ill as he has been picked up by police wandering on the highway naked , just yesterday they picked him up because he was dancing naked in someone’s backyard and when the police tried to remove him he got in a fight with them , they tasered him in order to handcuff him , but again they took him to the police station, charged him with resisting arrest and let him go on the street again. I am sick with worry and dont know what to do, I am going to catch a flight to where he is but dont know if i will be able to find him or whether he will allow me to put him on a plane and take him home with me. Please if anyone can tell me how i should handle this situation it would be greatly appreciated.


I don’t know how much it will help you, but I would learn the law where he’s at now & make them follow it.

Find out if there’s a crisis line that’s local to his area & call them for advice.

Here, in Virginia, dancing in the street naked would definitely get you put on an involuntary hold at the hospital - if you could get him to the hospital. I can’t speak for individual police officers.

Someone else here recommended telling whoever interacts with him that if he dies, or if he hurts someone else, you will make sure everyone, including the media, knows that they were the last person to refuse to help him. Make sure you take down names , badge numbers, whatever.


thank you i will definitely try these idea out, but it seems so far that when he was taken to hospital all they did was release him the next day. The police say there is nothing they can do but keep picking him up and letting him go. Even though they know he may be a danger to himself or society. They say there is nothing they can do unless he actually physically threatens to hurt himself or someone else. To me my son is already hurting himself, but the police say he has to do it say with a knife or gun or something. Ridiculous. The hospital nor therapist will talk to him unless he voluntarily goes there. I feel hopeless. But i will put out a missing persons report again this afternoon as i do not know where he is since the police picked him up and let him go yesterday morning. I would think where i live they would put him in a mental hospital if he danced in the street naked too but he is over in a small town on the east coast and they apparently dont think that way there. I have bought a plane ticket that doesnt leave till 6:20 pm tomorrow night , it is the earliest flight i could get for what i can afford.

I live on the East Coast - in Virginia.

I don’t know if all the states are the same, but here, each locality has something called the Community Services Board.
This board probably does a lot of things, but one of their responsibilities is to evaluate people and determine if they need to be held involuntarily based on the legal criteria.

If they decide the person needs to be there, they will petition the magistrate. The magistrate will approve it. The person is held, but then goes before a judge to confirm the hold. It’s almost always confirmed.

My son has been held involuntarily 5 times in the past year. He’s always asked to go, but sometimes wanted to leave once he got to the hospital. He was never threatening to harm anyone else or himself, but he was like your son - so out of it that he couldn’t protect himself from harm.

Once, when I called the crisis line to ask when he would be considered a danger to himself they told me this. He had gotten out of the car one day and walked away. Just walking away on the sidewalk was not a danger to himself. If he was walking in the middle of the road & wouldn’t stay out of traffic, that was a danger to himself. So, that day, there was nothing I could do but wait for him to calm down & get back in the car.

At the hospital, they would commit him for either 1. being unable to protect himself from harm or 2. being so ill that he was not mentally capable of consenting to or declining treatment. He could not hide his illness at that point. Maybe if your son is able to hide his, and no one else is there to push the issue, they let him go?

This is the standard in Virginia
For inpatient treatment, a person must meet the following criteria:
– be an imminent danger to self/others;
– be so seriously mentally ill as to be substantially unable to care for self;
– be substantially likely to “suffer serious harm due to substantial deterioration of his capacity to protect himself from harm or to provide for his basic human needs as evidenced by current circumstances.”

No one has ever refused him because he wasn’t suicidal or homicidal. Of course, he’s so sick when he goes in, he also looks like he’s overdosing on drugs or something. He’s usually been up for 6 to 8 days & talking nonsense to anyone who will listen.


thank you , i just talked to a place called the mobile crisis Unit in the area that he is in and they said if i could get someone to hold him or i guess when i make it there and find him , they will come assisted by police to assess him and if they find him to be all what you listed above they will take him to hospital. I have no health coverage there but i will worry about that later . Thank you so much for your help


Don’t worry about the health coverage - the state will work something out.
They’ll write it off or put it on his bill or whatever.

If he’s going to stay, they can get a Medicaid application going.

If he’s put in the hospital, find out in a day or so who his case manager is. Get them to ask him to sign a release so you can get information & help out. Otherwise, most places will accept information if they can’t take it from you.

But, they will be anxious to get a release signed because they’ll want to discharge him to you or another family member if possible.


Hello, I had attempted several times to have the police take my son to the hospital on an involuntarily hold- section 5150. Each time, I was told that he was not a danger to himself, even though he had not slept for a number of days and had not been eating. I contacted a local agency in San Diego, California who reported my concern about my son to APS (Adult Protective Services). My son was living with his elderly grandmother. So APS reported my son’s grandmother lived in the same home.The police arrived, checked-on my son’s grandmother, observed my son and determined that he needed to be taken to the hospital. If you live with your son and are elderly, and you feel your health is deteriorating, possibly your son could be taken-in on an involuntary hold. Take care of yourself and good luck.


Since your son is 24 and presumably without resources, he will be considered “indigent” and county or state money will likely kick in if he is hospitalized.

Unless you are extremely wealthy, DO NOT take legal responsibility for paying for his care. Hospital stays are expensive. Just have him be the person responsible for payment and the hospital will get him what he needs.

Also, depending on which state he is in, there may be a legal process that forces the police and hospital to pick up and hold a person 24 to 72 hours for a full psych evaluation. Where we live, anyone can file this without a lawyer and mobile crisis helps people do it.


You will get through this need medical help to normalize your son’s body chemistry. With rest and proper medicine he should feel better. I dont know what state your in or what type if insurance he has, but all states have some form of psych hold. Many are too short but some intervention is better than none. Usually when it gotto the point my son needed to go into hospital he would sign to go voluntarily, it’s a 302 in PA, but the ER doc would have signed him in involuntarily if needed. They have to be a threat to themselves or others. He is a threat to himself right now.


Praying for you now. I am not sure where you are geographically. In the US when my son was in the condition it sounds like your son is in, I called 9-11, explained that it was a mental health crisis so they would send the right personnel, and they took him to the hospital. He was evaluated stayed inpatient for over a month until they found the right combination of medications to help him. This is a journey. I am praying for wisdom and the right support system for you and your family. I pray God keeps you all safe and your son gets to the right professionals who with expertise and compassion help him gain stability consistently and optimum mental health and wellbeing.