Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Is being angry and argumentative common?

Hello all. I have never posted anything anywhere regarding my sons illness and am grasping for understanding. He was diagnosed almost 2 years ago and we are struggling to come to terms with this new normal. As many of you have experienced, it’s a staggering diagnosis. Above all, as a parent the grief is incredibly isolating and this diagnosis has shaken me to my core. Thankfully, my son is employed and doing relatively well with a job, which I am grateful for. But even though he is on an Abilify monthly injection he has symptoms at times—break through behaviors here and there. Is this normal while being medicated? Does it mean he’s not being medicated enough? Or is this par for the course with such a severe mental illness? Is it unrealistic to think this wouldn’t happen? I’m also wondering about common behaviors with schizophrenia. My son and husband got into an argument tonight. Fortunately, it’s not nearly as frequent as when he was first sick. It’s not that I think his diagnosis is inaccurate, but I wonder if he is being fully treated. Is being argumentative a common symptom of this disease? He can be agitated out of the blue and I can sense when he’s looking for a debate/argument. I tread carefully and rarely take the bait because it always spirals out of control—but my husband feels the need to call him out on his bad behavior as it happens—which is always a disaster. I’m a bit all over the place with my question, but any insight from you would be so helpful.

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Hi , Sorry to hear your troubles , i’m in the same boat as you , almost 3 years ago my once normal son got diagnosed with Schizophrenia and now diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder . He is on Abilify pills and yes very argumentative too . He gets agitated very quickly and if he hears the word ‘No’ he gets very angry . He has delusional thoughts , responds to stimuli by laughing to himself and is still paranoid . He has no insight and does not work . If i feel an argument is about to happen i try and diffuse the fight and walk away or hang up the phone if he starts to curse then i will demand an apology which he usually responds, ‘sorry mum , love you’ . Every day is a different day with different problems so i need to take one day at a time with him . Im learning this disease , i have been through hell and back with him and I’ve past the grieving part and i’m focusing all my energy to help get him better but the system is hard in America . Is this normal while being medicated you ask ? i ask the same thing and the replies i get is that everyone responds differently to meds . What i understand is that not all meds eliminate positive and negative symptoms . His psychiatrist raised the Abilify from 20mg to 25mg and it helped for a few months and now in the last few weeks his paranoia is kicking back in . i dont know what to do anymore , i feel all these doctors don’t really care , its just money for them and I’ve been to 5 different ones . I am his care giver and i do absolutely everything for him and its heartbreaking seeing my 22 year old son suffer like this . You must appreciate that your is working , i wish my son would or could work but its such a struggle . Choose your battles with him but make sure that there are boundaries and rules , you and your husband will learn your new son and you will both cope better as time goes on . If you feel his meds need adjusting then you must let his doctor know and also another tip i can give you is to write a diary ,dates when this started , symptoms , meds , doctors , anything important like paranoia , delusions etc … you will need this at some point . i wish you all the best , hang in there .

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@Grace, the only bit of advice or suggestion I can offer is please set boundaries for him whenever possible. Although difficult, try not to enable him. Please show tough love as much as possible, and somehow make your son see even you have your limits. Your husband SHOULD be calling out his bad behaviors, within reason, otherwise it will escalate to something much worse than a verbal confrontation.

I handled it all wrong for my son from day one. I spoiled him terribly and never said no. That changed about a year ago, I found he responds much better to tough love. He’s comfortable knowing he has to stay within certain boundaries. He likes routine and structure. I also give him money as a bargaining tool. It’s been working out well. Coddling and babying my son only backfired on me.

Only you know your son and how to best handle. Best of luck to your family.

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Hi Linda. Thank you so much. I mourn And grieve for the son I lost. My daughter says this is far worse than cancer, since her brother is gone as she new him. I’m so sorry he isn’t working. It seems like they should try new meds? Or an injectable?Also, I’m curious what specifically made your doctors change his diagnosis to schizoaffective? I ask bc they originally diagnosed my son with schizoaffective and switched to schizophrenia. They said they were seeing psychotic behavior while NOT in a mood episode. So hard to understand.

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Thanks so much for responding. I totally understand what you are saying and my husband won’t put up with his bs. I fight back when I get pushed to far. I guess I feel when he is agitated he seems symptomatic, so engaging him just starts the circular debating (as he seems slightly psychotic) It gets no where and it’s traumatizing on the family. You are so right and it’s such a hard line to walk.

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Hi Grace. Im glad you posted to say hi .
In our expereince with friction at home, our son gets very triggered by stress and then his thought pattern gets disorganized and then he gets frusterated. He isolates and doesnt get angry per say but both are complications of the illness. ( Isolation and anger) When you say you think he gets
slightly psychotic when the agitation happens,I think it happens to our son too but ours retreats and doesnt want to talk about how he is feeling at the time.
We have to remember that his reality is not in line a lot of the time and we have to always be in check with that.( using LEAP ) He can see and feel things very different then we do and we have to line those things up together. That has always helped to alleviate his frustration and temperament.
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You can let his Dr know and sometimes they can add something to help with this.

Has he gone to any kind of talk theapy or CBT therapy yet?

I can only speak from my own experience and when doctors tried my normally mild mannered son on Abilify he became very argumentative and somewhat violent within a week, his doctor quickly took him off of it and he returned to his mild manners. We still had arguments off and on but nothing like that.

It is really important for you and your husband to remember that your son is not trying to act out on purpose. The illness itself is so exhausting and frustrating and confusing to the person who has it and while doctors try various medications and see what they do for your son, he is still battling and often with schizophrenia the patient does not hear or understand common things that are said by others around him the same way that you or I understand them. Senses are distorted. Cognitive skills are diminished.

The voices and delusions interfere and get in the way. I could say “I love you” to my son when he was ill and he might hear " You are a loser and I hope you die" (seriously!) If you asked him then before he began to recover, he would not have been able to tell you he was hearing things so differently but he would react to what he thought he was hearing anyway and it would be a negative reaction more often than not.

My son has been very stable on Clozapine for several years now and we can talk about things from back in the day and it is really enlightening to hear what he remembers. Things were so very bad back then (trying to care for him) and I think he realizes it now. I think sometimes it is why he is extra kind to me (like saying, no mom let me get those dishes!) and today he actually makes a really good roommate.

My advice is this, be very “hands on” with the doctors and let them know EVERYTHING you experience with your son with every drug they try, my son went through probably 7 or 8 drugs before we finally got to Clozapine, none of them worked like Clozapine did and does still.

I would also highly recommend looking into a free class offered by NAMI called “Family to Family” -both you and your husband would benefit from it. It opened my eyes to my son’s illness in a way nothing else could and it set me on a different perspective in my efforts to help him . —> https://nami.org/Support-Education/Mental-Health-Education/NAMI-Family-to-Family

Lastly if you are able I recommend counseling for you and your husband if you guys can feasibly get it, because caring for a seriously mentally ill loved one is very stressful and traumatic for the caregivers almost as much as it is for the patient. I went back to counseling myself and stay in it today to keep myself in a good emotional space, especially since my son and I live together (and now with the quarantine).

I discovered long ago how sensitive my son was to the emotions I displayed and the more “even keeled and stable” I am around him -the more mentally healthy he presents. It’s well worth the effort. Best wishes to you and your family going forward.

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Here’s an old post which may serve to explain some of the roots of anger from the sufferers’ perspective:

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I agree , i did exactly the same thing babying him as i felt heartbroken for him and sorry for him ! Now it is tough love and it does work but i choose my battles with him and sometimes and sometimes i let small things pass and other times i walk away, hang up the phone or put him in his right place and explain how he is making me feel and everything gets diffused and he is sorry . Great advise !!!

Yes this disease is debilitating for you and him i really understand it , my son refuses to try any other meds or injections so my hands are tied . 2 psychiatrist diagnosed my son with schizoaffective disorder as he shows some signs of schizophrenia and other signs of bipolar (mania type Not depressive ) he has different moods all the time , i never know what to expect .

wow this really stood out for me and makes a lot of sense about my sons behaviour , thank you for this insight . im happy to hear your loved one is doing well .

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I am just wondering what is your son arguing with your husband about? Are they reasonable arguments? I have breakthrough delusions and hallucinations too even though I am on two anti-psychotics, so it is perfectly possible to both work and still experience symptoms. I have schizophrenia, originally at one point another psychiatrist thought I had bipolar with psychosis which is same as schizoaffective. In any case, being with schizophrenia just means you don’t need to take a mood stabilizer. I also think if your son isn’t on an anxiolytic already, he may benefit from one. I take cipralex for my anxiety which calms down my anger, etc.

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Yes similar here with our son, he’s 28 and was first hospitalised 5 years ago this month.
He’s had many different meds. Currently back in abilify 15mg tablet and fluoxetine 20mg.

He can be fine, happy and engaged and then another day he can be in a dark mood and I too know when he is heading for a rant / argument.
It’s exhausting yes, and some days when I strong I cope well , other days I’m not so strong and it is like a dark cloud hanging over me, a huge weight in my shoulders .

My son and hubby often clash too, hubby is more quick to react when sometimes picks on us, accuses us etc.

My son sometimes gets angry and “them” the doctor is, the police, and just “them”
He says they targeted him since being a young boy and stole his soul.
He has had little / no insight on every med whether it be depot or oral meds…

He graduated from university and worked for a few months till this hit him.
He’s not worked since 2014. He says sometimes that ,he wants to but , they won’t employ him or that he won’t work where he will be treated badly as he said he was before etc.

It’s tough , but here on this site you will find so many people who just get it and understand you.

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Hi , Thank you for your insight . Do you mind me asking why you get angry ? Does your hallucinations make you angry . I am asking as i am trying to understand my son when he has his outbursts . One day he is ok and the next he gets so angry for no reason .He had a good day today but yesterday the cursing and shouting was insane . He took his car to get an oil change then called me from the mechanics and said he didn’t want to do it and that the man at the mechanic was crazy and hates him and shouted at him and didn’t want to help him and it went on for a few min how evil and bad he was and i was trying to calm him down as i didn’t want him to stress so much .

Hi Lirik. Thanks for responding. It’s not that the issues and arguments are glaringly delusional and irrational. It’s like at times he’s very agitated and “off” and he turns normal conversation topics into an unnecessary debate. He interjects tension. Once that starts, he can’t help escalating it further. Also, the sad part is the reoccurring theme, after 30 minutes of trying to reason with him, somehow comes back to the anger of him feeling ignored by his sisters and us. And he cannot connect that his behavior has effected their relationship. He is easily set off if he feels Interrupted, cut off or left out of a conversation. When things go wrong, this seems to be the reoccurring pattern. The interesting thing is he always moves past it by the next day or so. I just don’t know if this is clearly a mood issue that needs to be addressed or breakthrough symptoms of schizophrenia.

Sorry Linda, I don’t get angry. I think your son is still delusional and hallucinating. The fact that he says the mechanic is evil and crazy and shouted at him. I think he hallucinated the mechanic calling him names, etc. It sounds much more like the medications aren’t that effective on him.

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Grace, I would say your son is more upset that his life has been set back by schizophrenia. To me, it seems that he is suffering from anxiety, specifically social anxiety. He feels that other people look down on him, etc so he needs to “win” every debate. This is evident when you say he feels ignored by his sisters and you. It is a deep resentment towards other people being more successful than him. Again, if he isn’t taking an anxiolytic, I think he would benefit from one, in addition to his anti-psychotic.

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SZ came with angers, agitations, weird actions, auditory and hallucinations all due chemicals and hormones mess up inside the brain. There are three important chemicals like GABA, Glutamate and Cortisol to deal with. The follow link maybe worth to visit:
https://www.holistichelp.net/blog/how-to-increase-gaba-and-balance-glutamate/

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Hi linda my son is also taking abilify 30mg. Daily and 75mg ivaga trenza every three months injection. Maybe you could ask the doctor about ivega trenza for your son my son has been on these for about one year now. He has been doing very well. He was on a CTO for the past year. The doctor didn’t renew the CTO so now my son doesn’t have to take any meds. anymore he still says that all these drugs are poison and are harming him. He has been hospitalized 4 times. I constantly suffer with stress and worry waiting for the shoe to drop.
L

Hi Margi , my sons is on 25mg Abilify and refuses to take anything else . He had one break 3 years ago so thank gd the Abilify is keeping him out of hospital but it is not diminishing his negative or positive symptoms . Getting an injection is out of the question with him as he had Abilify once forced upon him by injection and he is taking those doctors to court for ''poisoning" him and "shrinking his muscles . Its impossible to even have a conversation with him about it as his mania lets loose . This is not a life and my hands are tied . His psychiatrist wants to try him on different meds but he refuses .
Having said all that I have to be grateful that he lives with a room mate , he showers from time to time , he sometimes cleans his room and kitchen for pocket money even though its such an effort for him and he cooks for himself .I want more for his life , i want him to have a productive day instead of him playing on his xbox and dealing with lawyers and courts .