Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Need help with my son. Is he schizophrenic or does he have psychotic Depression?


Hello everyone, I am new to this forum. My son is nineteen years old. I took him to 2 psychiatrists and they thought he was suffering from anxiety and depression. He has been having horrible what he calls “images” for 8 months now. He does not hear voices. I took him to MHMR for a full evaluation. The intake counselor talked to him for over an hour and a half. He knows that the images are not real. He says sometimes they are moving and they can last from 30 seconds to an hour and a half. They are mostly images of creatures from a movie he has seen in the past wanting to kill him or harm others. He also sees Satan and people that he doesn’t know harming each other. He also has horrible nightmares. It all started with nightmares and now these visions. He has no interest in personal hygiene. He tried to go to college, but the professor put a movie on in class with a man being buried alive. My son was scared that it would get stuck in his head, so he called me to pick him up. That is when I decided to pull him out of school. He is also having depression and anxiety. He sleeps with me in a king size bed because he is so scared. He sleeps with the lights on at night if I am not in there with him. The intake counselor diagnosed him with undifferential schizophrenia. He saw the psychiatrist a few days later and he said he doesn’t want to jump the gun and diagnose him with schizophrenia as yet. He said he could have depression with psychosis.Last night was the first night my son came to me in the middle of the night and told me he had a vision that lasted over 2 hours. I feel like he is getting worst. He is going to increase his dose of Risperdal tomorrow. He also takes Lexapro and klonepin for anxiety. The doctor said three things can happen He can stay the same, get worst or get better. I really want to know if he is schizophrenic , I guess so I can prepare myself as his dad is very sick with congested heart failure and COPD and may not be around much longer. The intake counselor asked my son if he thinks he has super human powers. My son said one day he was in the bathroom and his left side of his brain was tingling and feeling funny and the lights flickered off and on. I have never noticed this when using the bathroom. I did have a late uncle with schizophrenia whom is no longer alive. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.


Finding a good qualified psychiatrist that is familiar with severe mental illness is vital.

Don’t be afraid of getting a second or third opinion.
Although the diagnosis is important, treating the symptoms with the proper medications, is way more important.

He seems to be on good meds from what you have written.

Get all the information and support that you need, a schizophrenia diagnosis is not a death sentence, there are effective meds/treatments for it.

You seem to be on top of the situation early in the game, this is important.

Once stabilized on the right med combo, seeing a therapist for him might be a good idea.
You will need support for yourself as well, NAMI is a good place to start for families.

All the best to you and keep marching forward


This can only be diagnosed by a qualified medical doctor. Getting things diagnosed by complete strangers in Internet forums is not what I would call a great idea.

Good luck.



**Welcome to the forum.
@Wave gave some excellent advice. You will need all the support you can get from family, friends, and support groups in your area.
It does sound like a mental disease to me-but I am not a doctor-just had similar experiences with my son.
You didn`t say if there was any improvement with the medications, but it does take awhile to get into the system.
Get another opinion if you are unsure-get your son involved in the decison-making also.
Check out the topics on this site.
Good luck and come back often- **


If he gets worst he can get schizophrenia. Right now try to prevent this as much as possible. He needs support, rest, sleep, and taking a break can help. It’s important that you trust the psychiatrist he is seeing. A qualified psychiatrist knowledgeable in schizophrenia may help. If you feel you need a firm understanding of schizophrenia check


We cannot diagnose him. What we can say to you is that whatever he has, he CAN get better with treatment and support. The good news is that he has insight. He knows something is wrong and he is willingly taking medication. The medication can slow or halt the progression of his illness. At the moment he is frightened both of the hallucinations and of the idea that he is going mad. When my son was at this point (he also sees ‘messages’ rather than hearing voices), he was also really terrified. I read as much as I could about it very quickly and I found information about the recovery movement for schizophrenia. It said that people who recover all say the same thing: at some point somebody said to them that they CAN recover and helped them. So tell your son that, and tell him you won’t let him down. That is what helped my son. He is getting better, I am very happy to say.


Night terrors. No sz.


@Hatty, Thank you for your advice.I have been researching everything on the internet about both schizophrenia and depression with psychosis for the past 2 weeks. My son just increased his anti-- psychotic med a few nights ago, so it is a waiting game from here. He also has a caseworker coming to the house every week. I am a hygienist and just lost my job, so my husband and I are under a lot of stress, but try our best not to show it. I worked a temp job when she came over and my husband forgot to ask her about psycho therapy for my son and local support groups. Yes Hatty, my son is scared that he may not recover from this. I did explain to him we have to find the right medications for him. It would be a blessing if this first try would work!! So far nothing has changed. We are also trying to get a MR I or brain CAT scan as he has constant headaches and the psychiatrist has recommended it to rule out any medical issues. I don’t expect to get a diagnosis from all of you… I just wanted to know if any of you have love ones that experience the symptoms that my son is experiencing. …My son, from the very beginning, knew that the hallucinations were not real…but the intake counselor told us he still could have schizophrenia …Hatty, did your son know that the “messages” were not real? I am very happy with the help we are getting with MHMR. They are wonderful and knowledgable professionals and take their time answering our concerns… Thank you everyone for your advice.


Yes, sounds similar to our experience. My son had some kind of vision at the age of nineteen, which was quite pleasant and made him feel better at a time he was stressed. But at that time he had only that as a single ‘postive’ symptom. Unfortunately, he went on to have ten years of negative symptoms, which meant he dropped out of uni, lost his friends, etc. Finally he went into a n identifiable psychotic episode. In his case it was ‘seeing messages’ everywhere, combined with some mania and grandiosity. I think at first he just believed the messages, but eventually they became overwhelming and he started ‘testing’ them and found they were not true. But they didn’t abate, which was when it began to become frightening and exhausting. He spent a few nights roaming central London, lost and scared. Then he started to ask for help. He called me on the phone, then he got Capgras syndrome and had to go to my friend’s place and ask her to call first to check it was me. She took him to MIND and then to A&E and started the whole medical side as I got on a plane and flew over! But, yes, he asked for help because he worked out something was seriously wrong. So getting support, help and treatment was at his instigation. There has been no need to pressure him to be ‘compliant.’ What I have missed out is the phase in the middle, before the major psychosis when he gradually became more and more physically aggressive toward me, and I made him leave home.


It could be the onset of something that hasn’t fully maximized enough to determine an encompassing diagnosis. Symptoms of Mental Illness from what I understand, can come to the surface in late teens and early 20’s.
My daughter was diagnosed with Depressive Disorder with Schizophrenic symptoms eventually. As a child, she had night terrors and would tell me in tears “I am bad, mommy.” But couldn’t tell me why she thought so. Though she was very social, a tomboy and had many friends, she constantly felt that she was a bad person. Then when she was married and had her first child, she began talking about being able to “read people’s thoughts” and these thoughts she said they had, were always extremely brutal and mean. She had her first psychotic break at age 22. It began gradually with her voicing what she believed everyone was thinking about her, and then she started accusing family members of 'practicing witchcraft" or thinking bad thoughts about her. Eventually she went into her own world and it was hard to communicate with her.Her husband found her wandering the streets one day and she wasn’t lucid. It has been a roller coaster ride since then, with sometimes very long periods of her in and out of psychosis. She’s 33 now. First they said she was Bipolar. But over the years its evolved into DD with Schizo symptoms and psychosis episodes. It has been heartbreaking for the family, and hard on her 3 kids.
For years it was very hard for me to see her in this state. But I eventually learned to accept it (for now) and try to just do what I can to help, or what she’ll let me. What exhausted me the most was the amount of attention she requires in order to have some kind of management of her situation and life. But I’ve learned to be nearby, and not micromanage or hover like I used to.
I went through a long hellish period; dying a thousand deaths trying to accept this illness and deal with it. Once we as parents can accept that our adult child is suffering from a mental illness, it then frees us to come up with a plan on how we can help them in the least invasive way to have - as normal of a life as possible, and still be able to have a life of our own. It didn’t help - for me to spend years - in grief.
It helps to be able to see the lighter side of things, and be able to laugh about things, instead of always crying. I love my daughter, and I’m grateful to God to have her. But I had to accept her limits, and find a way to be a healthy support.
Your son might benefit from talking to a therapist. Sometimes, it could be maybe something else. But the possibility of the onset of mental illness is also a possibility.


Psychiatirsts can stall over giving a diagnosis. They seem to believe the symptoms have to stick for a long time for it to be considered to be schizophrenia.

Anyway, If I were you I wouldn’t worry too much. Id just carry on being supportive. A caring supportive envieonment will help immensely.


I hear ya, Hatty, and I understand all the implications of how it affects a mother. Mothers would do anything to save their child. I hope things are doing better or a little more promising.


I have one child He is 19 He has schizophrenia is very hard for me he is graduating in may He don’t want to do nothing he don’t care about his hygiene his looks won’t comb his hair l don’t know what to do he says he’s not working all he wants to do is play gamed l need help


My son likes his hair short so he doesn’t have to brush it so my husband trims it, maybe a short haircut might work for your son?
Also took my son to the store to pick out his own deodorant and he really likes the Axe brand scents, so he uses those.
Maybe between video games or before he starts, you might say now might be a good time to take a shower or brush your hair.


Yes my son is 19 he only let’s his dad cut his hair also l get him gift cards no cash so he can handle it better