When I was 21 years old I started having visions and hearing things that others did not. I thought and still do think, I am special because of it. However, I started to feel like I did not want to be special any more. I went to the doctor and was treated for depression…
I am now 35 years old. I am college educated, I had a great career…children and now everything is falling apart. I used to be able to drown out the voices when they became overwhelming. I am having trouble dealing with it. They call me names and scream at me. They used to be friendly and even helpful. I am also extremely worried that someone will hurt me and my children.
I started seeing a therapist in October but I could not tell him everything. I did not really trust him. I felt by the way he was speaking to me that he was trying to judge me. I was also very afraid that he would have me arrested and take away my children. I was taking medication, but the voices told me that if I continued to take them I would die…I thought it would be in my best interest to listen….
I have an appointment with a new doctor next month…what should I do? Should I tell the doctor everything? Is this normal? Am I suffering from a depression?
A. Yes, you should tell your doctor about the symptoms that you are having. Withholding information from your doctor makes it difficult for him or her to properly treat your problem. The fact the you withheld this information from previous mental health professionals means that they may have misdiagnosed you with depression. Nothing in your letter suggests that you have depression. Your primary symptoms seem to be delusions and hallucinations, neither of which are symptoms of depression. They are in fact symptoms of a possible psychotic disorder such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. I cannot say with certainty whether or not you have a psychotic disorder but it is a possibility. That is why it is imperative that you report all symptoms to your doctor so that he or she can treat your symptoms accordingly.
There’s no reason to believe that you will be arrested or that your children will be taken away from you. Your children are not in danger. The authorities only remove children from their parents in cases of imminent danger. You’ve done nothing to suggest that you might harm your children. Simply having symptoms of a mental health disorder does not make you a danger to your children.
I would encourage you to read the New York Times article by Elyn Saks entitled “Successful and Schizophrenic.” Elyn Saks is a university professor, a successful researcher and the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation genius grant. She has schizophrenia and has been wildly successful in her life. In the article, she describes some of the ways in which highly successful individuals with schizophrenia manage their delusions and hallucinations. Some utilize cognitive techniques. In one instance, one particular individual would ask the following questions of himself when he began to experience hallucinations: “what’s the evidence for that? Or is it just a perception problem?”
She describes another individual who would simply “blow off” their derogatory voices. Another individual identified their triggers for the purpose of preventing a “full blown experience of symptoms.” Others used techniques such as minimizing sensory outputs, exercising, focusing on work, getting proper sleep, healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, and prayer.
There are very effective treatments and strategies that you can employ to significantly decrease or eliminate your symptoms. The sooner that you report these symptoms to your doctor, the sooner your symptoms can be properly dealt with. Please take care.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Feb 2013
Randle, K. (2013). Should I Disclose Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/02/20/should-i-disclose-depression/