Hi, I am concerned my partner may have some form of schizophrenia. We have been together almost 6 months and he has always had a drinking issue where he will occasionally drink in excess and then be incredibly aggressive but not remember anything the next day, I always put this down to his age as he is only 20. The other night we went to the football and we were watching a game.. he hadn’t been drinking, I made a comment about the play and my boyfriend said shut up that’s not right. He wouldn’t normally talk to me like this and I was a little taken a back. When we got home that night we were laying down and he told me that he always hears voices in his head and it’s constant so that if we are having a conversation he is there but not really because he has this voice constantly talking away. It explained why he always appears to be not listening. He went on to explain that at the game when he yelled at me he was actually yelling at the voice in his head as he always premeditates what will happen in every situation. He said it’s to the point where he is in constant de jevu and he doesn’t know whether he has already experienced what has happened or whether he actually leaves his mind and then comes back into the situation. He explained he drinks to numb the voices, he has been diagnosed with anxiety and takes medication efexor-xr. He said his anxiety is better but the voices haven’t stopped, he has been taking the tablets for a year. I know his behavior isn’t normal but I am not sure what I should be doing or how I can help, now that he has told me I can completely see he checks out of our conversations often. And more recently he will say things which don’t really work into what we are talking about when I ask what he said he’ll say nothing and I don’t know if he actually believes he hasn’t said anything or not? I can see he doesn’t seem happy and constantly on edge. Do you think this is schizophrenic or some other form of mental illness? He has seen a psychiatrist in the past who diagnosed the anxiety but it’s apparent that it’s not just anxiety he suffers from, can you please help. Thank you.
A. I cannot offer a diagnosis over the Internet but I can provide some insight. Hearing voices is not a symptom of an anxiety disorder. Hearing voices is a sign of possible psychosis. Psychosis is a break from reality. It is a symptom of several mental health disorders, including: schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and several others.
Drinking to suppress the voices is known as self-medicating. It is a relatively common, though ineffective and dangerous, response to trying to repress symptoms of psychosis. Drinking likely exacerbates the problem. Not only does drinking make the problem worse, it may be contributing to his anger outbursts. Your boyfriend should receive help for his problem.
Encourage him to be reevaluated by a psychiatrist. I also would suggest that you go to the evaluation with him, if he allows. That way you can directly report his symptoms to the psychiatrist. There are medications that can decrease the voices or eliminate them entirely. They are called antipsychotics. Antipsychotic medications are designed specifically to treat the symptoms that he is experiencing. Please encourage him to be evaluated by a psychiatrist as soon as possible.
A word of caution: most individuals who experience psychosis are not violent but the research shows that they can be when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He has been verbally abusive while intoxicated. In addition, he has no recollection of the event. This is indicative of a loss of control. The mix of alcohol and psychotic symptoms are likely contributing to or causing this loss of control. Don’t hesitate to call the police or the mental health crisis team if you feel threatened.
I hope this answer helps guide you in the right direction. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to write again. Please consider writing back and letting me know how you and your boyfriend are doing. Please take care. I wish you the best.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Jun 2011
Randle, K. (2011). Boyfriend Hears Voices: What Can I Do?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/06/06/boyfriend-hears-voices-what-can-i-do/