Does My Partner Have Schizophrenia?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I think my partner may be experiencing Schizophrenia or something similar. Before I met my girlfriend she had been diagnosed with depression and general anxiety disorder. Within the last year she has stopped taking her medication (Paxil) because she felt it was no longer helping her. In fact her episodes of depression seemed to be worse. A month and a half ago we moved to Toronto and since that time she has been complaining about people we don’t know (customers at a local restaurant behind our house) are laughing at her and know what she’s been writing about in her journal. Furthermore she has, for the last four weeks, been complaing about people sending her sexually perverse images and sounds into her head. She can hear moaning, animals screaming, children begging not to do something, and a man with a deep voice bitching at a woman to stop. During this time she has been even more sexually insatiable than normal. She complains of being constantly sexually stimulated or abused by people who are just not here. At one point she claimed that it was people using magic (a cult of satanists, or pagans). She complains of feeling that she is not complete, that some part of her is where these practioners of magic (or whoever is responsible for this stimulation) are. She has on a few occasions asked, no begged, me to help her kill herself because of this unending torture. I have found her with a cable wrapped around her neck several times as if she had just tried to strangle herself. At first she believed that the people responsible were here in the neighborhood but now believes that they are further away and taking that part of her that is missing with them. Could you shed some light on this for me?

Thank you,
A concerned boyfriend

A. Dear concerned boyfriend, I can understand why you’re worried. Your girlfriend’s symptoms are severe. The most concerning aspect of her behavior is that on several occasions you found her with a cable wrapped around her neck ready to end her life. It does not seem as if she’s depressed. It’s as if she’s being driven to behave in such a manner by her delusions, paranoia and hallucinations.

Her symptoms may be indicative of a schizophrenia or bipolar-like disorder. It may also be a generalized psychosis. It’s difficult to diagnose an individual over the Internet so I can’t know with certainty.

If I could ask you followup questions I would want to know what, if anything precipitated her symptoms. Was there a stressful event that had recently occurred? Was there a recent trauma in her life? Did something in her life recently change? Was there a death in the family, loss of a job, or a move to a new town or city? Does she use illegal drugs or alcohol? Has she had a recent head injury? If I knew this information I might be better able to determine what is causing her abnormal behavior.

You also mentioned that she has recently stopped taking Paxil. Though it is rare, there are some occasions when abruptly stopping a medication causes a negative reaction. Usually these negative reactions are more commonly associated with other medications such as antipsychotics and not necessarily antidepressants. As I’ve mentioned, it’s rare but it’s possible that her behavior is the result of the discontinuation of Paxil.

Has she been to a doctor? It is unsafe for her to be left alone while she is in the condition you have described. This is evidenced by the fact that she has made multiple attempts to end her life.

Please do not ignore or avoid this problem. My advice is to bring her to an emergency room or to make an immediate appointment with a mental health clinician. She needs to be evaluated as soon as possible. Do not leave her unsupervised. Please let me know if there are any other questions I can answer for you.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Sep 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Does My Partner Have Schizophrenia?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/09/03/partner-have-schizophrenia/

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