Afraid My Wife May Be Paranoid Schizophrenic

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

About a month and 1/2 ago my wife started thinking someone was hacking into her Facebook account and reading her notifications. I put all the security measures in place and ensured her she was safe. It has gradually gotten worse to the point she believes people are watching us through our cell phones and webcams. She thinks people are following her around town and have even been in our house and her car. She thinks all of our computers and phones are hacked and most of the things she believes are going on just aren’t possible. A couple months ago she would have thought the things she is telling me are happening are crazy. Now she truly believes it’s all real. I’m very worried about her. This is consuming her and destroying our marriage. I don’t know how to ask her to go see someone because she doesn’t think anything is wrong. I just don’t know what to do. She’s 33 years old and we have two kids. She’s an awesome mother and talking to her she still seems like the same person I’ve always known besides her belief in this one crazy idea. All of this is new to me so I’d appreciate any advice.

A. Your wife seems to be paranoid and delusional. At this point in time, it may be too early to know if she has schizophrenia. Paranoia and delusions are associated with several psychotic disorders, schizophrenia being one of them.

Symptoms of psychosis can also be the result of drug use and in rare instances, organic brain disease.

Generally speaking, psychosis does not go away on its own. It typically requires treatment. It tends to get worse over time, with an individual’s behavior becoming increasingly worrisome and potentially dangerous. The sooner that she can receive treatment, the better. When it comes to psychosis, time is of the essence.

Psychosis is a break with reality. People with psychosis are no longer able to think rationally. Their perception of the world is skewed. Your wife doesn’t think anything is wrong with her and that is typical among people with psychosis. They have difficulty judging their perceptions accurately.

I would recommend that you make an appointment for her to see a mental health professional and go with her. She’s probably not going to understand why she needs to be evaluated by a mental health professional, and she may even come to see you as her enemy. It’s best to psychologically prepare yourself for that possibility. Try not to take it personally. It’s likely going to be a confusing and scary time for her but if you are supportive and understanding, this will help.

When you both meet with a mental health professional, report all of your concerns. You could do this in the presence of your wife, but it may be better to do it outside of her presence; it all depends on the situation. The mental health professional should provide you with guidance about how to proceed. Generally speaking, psychosis is most effectively treated with medication. Medication can decrease the symptoms of psychosis and in some cases, eliminate them entirely.

If your wife is unwilling to see a mental health professional, then contact a mental health professional who can assist you in handling this situation. Contact your local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) support group. They are an advocacy group who helps people in circumstances like yours. I hope this helps. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Jun 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Afraid My Wife May Be Paranoid Schizophrenic. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/06/09/afraid-my-wife-may-be-paranoid-schizophrenic/