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Reducing hallucinations with "doses of reality"


#1

My youngest daughter has been telling me she heard voices and saw things that to her wasn’t real. E.g. voices telling her “don’t eat that” and “something about the green/red man jumping off the lighting of a pedestrian crossing” That was a few years ago. Now, she told me the voices is becoming more frequent, and mean, e.g. saying that she is fat. My daughter recognizes that the voices aren’t real, but she questions what if the voices are telling the truth. I had a long debate what the average BMI says about her and her view that her thighs and ankles are bigger than normal. Recently, just before bed she saw someone tapping on the window and waving from the outside. I threw open the curtain, and that probably helped her acknowledge that nothing is there. One of the things I am encouraging her to do is to check and validate if what she hears and what she sees is real. BTW, my youngest daughter is seeing a psychologist for social anxiety and I have not brought her to see a psychiatrist.

The reason why I wrote this is to find out if anyone out there have other experience to share.

  1. Does frequent interaction with the subject helps? i.e. talking, helping the person see the logic; validating if what they see is real (e.g. someone tapping on the window late at night can be scary and having more than one person brings up courage to open the curtain to validate).
  2. Has anyone seen remission on schizoaffective disorder without taking medication? I am wondering if by having more interaction with the subject, taking on a more regimented daily routine, avoiding stressful situations helps a person with schizoaffective disorder lead a life without medication?

I won’t be angry if someone thinks that I am delusional and need to send my daughter to a psychiatrist right away. I am also encouraged by stories that there are some whom medication has not helped and they just find a way to deal with their illness.

Thanks.


#2

Hi Chong. My daughter started talking about seeing a man in her room every night at around four years old. I didn’t think anything of it due to her age and thought it was all imagination. When she kept insisting someone was there, I became worried and told her pediatician and was told it was childhood imagination. At around 11, she was hospitalized with her first psychosis seeing and hearing things and again at 13. The doctors kept saying it was severe depression with phychotic features. I think most parents know that gut feeling that says something is wrong. I did find out years later most doctors will not diagnose schizophenia in children and teens. She was on medication and had therapy through these years, however when she turned 18, she stopped. She was around 28 when she went to the county welfare clinic and begged for help. There she was diagnosed as bipolar by a nurse practitioner (they would not even let her see a doctor). She was treated a couple of years for bipolar disorder (wrong diagnosis) and it really made things worse. She went back to her previous doctor after that and and then she was finally helped. There the doctor hooked her up with a wonderful psychiatric teaching hospital and she was tested by 3 different doctors, multiple brain scans were done and they all agreed it was schizophenia. I get angry sometimes when I think about it taking almost 30 years to get her the help she needed all along.
Please keep in mind that you want your child to be open with you about their symptoms. I seems the more my daughter is able to talk about her experiences, the easier it is for her to control her symptoms. Me myself have never said to her that “those things aren’t real or that doesn’t happen” because I was afraid she would stop talking about what was happening to her. I need her to relate to me so I can let her doctor know how she’s doing and make the adjustment to medication if needed. She has been treated for schizophrenia for almost 2 years now and is slowing progressing, but the medication is still being adjusted constantly.
Sorry to ramble, but:

  1. I thing frequent interaction helps a lot. I validate she has fears and try to comfort her.
  2. I have not seen a remission without medication, it seems to be worse without it. Avoiding stressful situations is very important. I know everyone has stress at times, but she is much more sensitive to it. I don’t think you are delusional, we all want the best for our children. I would definitely have her see a psychiatrst. Yes, I have read great stories about people achieving goals with good doctors and family support. The stories bring me a lot of hope and joy.
    Best wishes to you and your child.

#3

Hi Chong. My daughter had similar experiences. At about the age of 4, it was mentioned that her interaction with other children was a slight concern, but that she would probably grow out of it. By the time she was about 10, she was seeing a psychologist for her symptoms: social anxiety and elective mutism. The psychologist wouldn’t commit to any specific diagnosis, as at that age, the body and mind are changing so much.

From about the age of 11 she started saying that other girls were talking about her i.e. she was hearing voices although we didn’t know it at the time. When she was 14, after a family outing during which she was hearing voices in other cars, we decided to take her to a psychiatrist. After several months of deliberating, the psychiatrists decided she had sz. But it took them a long time to commit to the diagnosis, again because during puberty the mind is changing considerably and it’s very difficult to decide on the correct diagnosis. The diagnosis is life changing so the last thing you want is for your child to be treated with antipsychotic drugs, because of a wrong diagnosis.

With paranoid sz, logic has little effect as their minds will very cleverly counteract the logic. You can try it, but be prepared for it to escalate and get very frustrating. In our experience with sz, the illness comes and goes in waves, whether our daughter is on medication or not. However, the waves are much much bigger and more frightening/dangerous without medication.

May I ask how old your daughter is Chong?


#4

If your daughter recognizes the voices as voices, maybe you can talk to her about how the voices come from her own brain, and maybe they echo things that she’s worried about?

My son recovered from 2 psychotic breaks (his first ones at 15 & 17) without meds. He had a 3rd one at 18, and then was put on anti-psychotics. He stayed stable with some breakthrough symptoms until around 26 - he lost insight & we’re working hard to get a med that works now.

Even if your daughter isn’t medicated, she needs professional treatment while she has insight. If nothing else, a therapist who will help work with her on how to manage her symptoms. My son is on a team now that believes it’s just as important, if not more important, than the medication.

This is not something the family should try to manage on their own. I’ve learned that the hard way.