Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Mum needing advice (new member)

Hi. My son who is 16 has had phycosis now for 4 months. He was using cannabis everyday and he tells me the odd bit of cocaine. Also he lost his Dad about a year ago. He’s been on risperidone, seroquel briefly and now Abilify. Also diazepam for when it gets to bad so he’s taking 2 a day. He has voices 24/7 replies with yes and no answers stays in his room most of the day and just lies there. TV, phone, Xbox, all make voices worse so he doesn’t do anything coz I don’t think he can. The early phycosis team try and get him to listen to music or go for a walk or try and distract and I’ve tried everything to get him a bit more engaged with things but nothing. I’m broken hearted that my son has this illness and I lie awake most nights just in case he needs me. I know this is going to be a long road and this forum has been great for me for understanding his illness more. He’s being sick everyday since he started taking Abilify 2 weeks and the community nurse says just to keep going and that now medication might not be working for him and they think that therapy is the answer. She said that now they are waiting for a certain part of the cycle in phycosis where they can interact with him more. Now I was under the impression that it was the medication that got him to that point for the change in cycle or am I wrong? Anyone been told that before? Any help would be greatly appreciated

Generally you wait for medication to take effect, so that thoughts are clear enough to accept talk therapy. It seems a little odd suggesting talk therapy as an alternative when drug therapy might fail. That’s not a very conventional approach, it seems a bit backwards. There maybe some miscommunication going on here on someone’s part, and it could be me misunderstanding your post. Two weeks is probably not enough time to decide whether Abilify is good fit.

Two things stick out to me here: three different AP medications in a relatively short period of treatment, and two diazepam a day. I’m assuming the diazepam (a benzodiazepine) is to calm him down when he has distress. I’d wait a while to see if Abilify might work for him, and be careful with the diazepam lest he build up a dependency, as he did seek drugs in the past.

I had a bad experience with cannabis around his age, and used it sparingly afterward before developing SZA many years later. I think it’s bad for certain sensitive people, and especially unwise for young developing brains. I recovered, but I’m alarmed that legalization efforts may make cannabis related psychosis or SZ more common.

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You are in the right place to get support and hope!

I’ve been told that it is extra difficult to medicate teenage boys for psychosis because the hormones complicate everything so much. My son is 15, and honestly he didn’t respond to any of the newer anti-psychotics too well. He is on Thorazine and it is finally making a difference and then he hopes to switch to Haldol for weight reasons (another older drug).
I wish I had more wisdom to share. All I know is that every individual can react SO differently to the medications. If you stick with it, there will be something that helps your son.
I am so sorry you are going through this. No one expects to see their chold suffer like this. But don’t lose hope! This is such a wonderful forum and you can learn a lot here.

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I too thought it was all about finding the right medication and then work on therapy. He was in risperidone first and there was no luck going up to 6 mg then they gave him seroquel that made the voices more distorted he said that made him panic about changing medication more so they changed him onto Abilify. He was originally on lorazepam for the first 2 months and were worried about dependence so they changed him onto diazepam. I am watching out for dependable too as I am worried about that. They seem to be big on the therapy side and always say every week don’t concentrate on medication as much, more towards distracting via other things. Thank you very much for the advice and so pleased you recovered!

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I will keep hoping and thank you so much for sharing your sons experience with me. At least I know that it is harder to medicate boys now. I didn’t know that. That makes a bit more sense. I keep on thinking did I miss something or did school miss it too like a change in behaviour but I didn’t. He was out a lot but I thought it was just boys out, better for them instead of being stuck in front of games all day. How wrong I was! I will keep learning from this forum. Thanks again for your kind words and support

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What sort of therapy? Maybe CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy)? If so that might make some sense in this context if he’s receptive.

Abilify takes a while to build up, and it also takes a very long time to leave your system once you get up to therapeutic levels. There’s a few older typical medications they may try as Hummingbird suggests.

Clozaril/Clozapine might also be an option in the UK, not sure about other former English colonies. Many people swear by it here for tough cases, but it’s difficult to get doctors to prescribe it in the States. Hope things improve for you and your son.

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Yeah CBT that’s what they’re suggesting also support in any activities he might want to try like going to the gym or doing like a hobby course. I feel that would be very much a future thing though. Thanks for the info on Abilify and Clozapine. As you’ve guessed I am in the UK. Thanks very much for your helpful advice again

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Yes, that makes a lot of sense. I took up singing with a choir and eventually ended up doing musical theatre. Anything that stimulates his mind and body is probably going to be a good thing. It’s good to have something with a bit of a social element, but not so much that he gets overwhelmed.

Computers and gaming are less ideal, but some manage to make these social. IRL interaction is more therapeutic. When I got sick, I was in school part time, working part time, going to a therapist twice a week and I somehow managed to keep it together, but eventually dropped out of school in favor of working full time. Looking back on it, I’m amazed I was able to keep it together, but I guess that speaks to the distractions that they’re talking about.

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Wow! That’s some going. You must have been so determined. How are you doing now?

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I’m fine, I was very lucky. I recovered about 25 years ago. I’m here to show people what’s possible, and try to give caregivers perspective and insights on how people with SZ think and feel with hope that treatments will be developed where my experience is the norm instead of the exception.

Here’s a link to a thread of similar success stories, including mine.

I know it is difficult to get through to them, but have you shared that cannabis increases the likelihood of SZ? There’s a link on the home page of this site about SZ and marijuana. My son is now 23 and I haven’t been able to convince him so far. But he has been in jail for most of this year and his brain seems a little clearer so I am still trying!

Hi Vicki. I’m sorry that your son and you are going through this. My son is 21 years old. At the age of 18 he was diagnosed with Schizoprenia. My son was smoking a lot of Marijuana laced with oils. He’s been to the psyche ward about 5 times. The last time he went in was because of the voices. He’s been taking Divalproex ER 500mg twice a day as well as Risperidone 2x day. Its almost 9 months and he says he will hear the voices here and there but the meds have helped quiet the voices. Therapy is good because they share how they are feeling and it gets them out the house. Everything you described about your son isolating himself my son does as well. It is heart breaking.
But if you can get into a support group it will be very helpful. There are programs for your son as well where he can meet others that are struggling as well and he won’t feel alone.
I pray you find the help you need for your son as well as for you. Take care and know that you’re not alone.

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My son was diagnosed at age 18. It has now been 23 years since that time. Here is the advice from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Antipsychotics

Antipsychotic medications are usually taken daily in pill or liquid form. Some antipsychotics are injections that are given once or twice a month. Some people have side effects when they start taking medications, but most side effects go away after a few days. Doctors and patients can work together to find the best medication or medication combination, and the right dose. Check the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website: (http://www.fda.gov/), for the latest information on warnings, patient medication guides, or newly approved medications.

Psychosocial Treatments

These treatments are helpful after patients and their doctor find a medication that works. Learning and using coping skills to address the everyday challenges of schizophrenia helps people to pursue their life goals, such as attending school or work. Individuals who participate in regular psychosocial treatment are less likely to have relapses or be hospitalized. For more information on psychosocial treatments, see the Psychotherapies webpage on the NIMH website.

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My son took Abilify for a while. He was sick in the evenings for a few weeks and then that tailed off. He was also prescribed diazepam for the restlessness that was another side effect of Abilify initially. He never took it.

Two weeks is also not very long to wait for an anti psychotic to take effect. Typically, they suggest waiting six weeks. Although my son did respond a bit to taking abilify within a few days.

Ultimately Ability didnt help my son enough and he now takes clozapine. We are in the UK.

I would also say that my experience (four years now) of helping someone with schizophrenia is that it’s a long, slow process - a bit like gardening you need to think in months and years, not weeks. And sometimes there are bug attacks!

Best wishes

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Thanks to you all for your advice and thoughts. My son seems to have turned a corner this week. He’s a lot more responsive to me and he’s started coming out with me to the shops etc and went into work (our family business) for a couple of hours for some of the week. So it’s a massive improvement. He appears more focused. Thanks again for everyone who replied. Much appreciated

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That’s great! So glad he’s doing better. My mother would say I seemed to progress in spurts. If you notice him improving consistently for several days, let him know. When you are ‘in it’, you don’t always realize your progress along the way.

Nice that you have a family business. Working can be very therapeutic if stress is moderated. My father was able to get me a job through contacts when I became ill, and it made a big difference. I even started medication on my own when I realized I wouldn’t be able to continue working otherwise.

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Well my grandson also got psychotic using pot and progressed to everything else. But They tried seroquel geodon, respiridal, depakote, lamictal zyprexa and nothing helped. I told them from the get go I want him on Clozapine every Doctors visit. Took my grandson getting arrested before they finally said yes. IT CHANGED HIS LIFE. It has side effects like all the meds but he gained 100 pounds but has lost 75. He drools at night. But he has his life back. Just got a great fulltime job but he has been clean 4 years and working fulltime for 4 years. The main worry is the white blood count so you have to get it checked a lot in the beginning now only once a month. Its bern fabtastic fof him

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