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Long Distance Caregiving: How Can I Help My Son From Afar?

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Q. My son is infantry and got married just before deployment to a girl that has been problems/he caught her with another guy. He had a violent break down and has been hospitalized. I don’t know what to do. He is on a long list of psychotics and mood stabilizers and anti anxiety drugs. Heavy doses and I can’t get through to the doctors for any help. When I talk to him he sounds very drugged and he says he can’t stop hurting himself (he cut superficially) or going out of control and getting a shot. He does not sound like my son. He cries and wants his wife, who is no help. He opens his band aids and pulls of his scabs and says he can’t stop, but wants to. What should a course of treatment be? I dont know what to expect. He is in a hopsital in colorado springs at fort carson. He cut once before when he was 17 on paxil for depression and he came of it and stopped. He has had panic attacts as a child and alcohol is like a poison to him If he drinks he get very violent. No other real problems. He says now he feels like he is crazy and wants to be medicated. But, he is on so much I think there are side effects and they cant see my son. He is on depakote 500 ,thorazine every 6 hour, topamax, geodon 2x d ativan, paxil 20 mg, erozamil (?) klonipin and vitimans and blood pressure med. Never had HBP before. Any way what is going on? What can I do? Will all these meds help?

Long Distance Caregiving: How Can I Help My Son From Afar?

Answered by on -


Based on your question, it does not seem that you are in direct physical contact with your son and that you and he are interacting over the phone. If you are not physically with him at the hospital, managing his situation, then it may be very difficult for you gain access to information or to offer much help. I say this for two reasons.

One reason is because even as his mother, because of strict confidentiality laws, you may not be able to call the hospital and speak to his doctors or nurses regarding his case. You may be able to call the hospital staff and offer them information about his mental health history but they may not be legally able to update you on his condition. Ridiculous as it may be, there are confidentiality laws that prohibit the hospital staff from giving information over the phone (or in person for the matter ) on the condition of one of their patients, even if it is a close relative, unless the patient signs a release form explicitly stating who can access that information. This means that even if you’re an immediate family member trying to acquire information about a loved one’s condition, unless the patient signed the release, you may not be given any information over the phone. When an individual is actively psychotic and unable to think clearly, he or she may not be willing to sign these release forms. This may hinder your ability to access information.

Secondly, it may be difficult for you to help your son if you’re not with him in Colorado. If you are not with him, then it may be possible that you are only getting his version of events. His version of the situation has the potential to be inaccurate, not because he is deliberately lying but he may be confused or mentally disoriented.

Even if you were physically with your son, the ways in which you could help may still be limited.

The best that you may be able to do from afar is to call his treating physicians and inform them about his mental health history and about any concerns that you may have. There is no law against calling his doctors and offering them information. Ask them questions regarding his case and hopefully, if a release was signed by your son, you will be able to acquire the doctor’s opinion regarding your son’s condition. Express your concern about the many pharmaceutical drugs that he is taking and ask for the doctor’s rationale behind his or her choice of medications.

You should also try to be in contact with social workers or nurses who may be able to assist in accessing information and answering your questions as to what the best course of treatment should be (and will be) for your son upon his hospital discharge. Will he be returning home? Does he return to the military? What sort of treatment will he receive? And so forth. Ask all of these questions and many more if the hospital staff is willing and able to release this information to you. Short of going to Colorado to see your son and his treatment team in person, which may not be feasible for you, these above-mentioned suggestions may be your best course of action. I wish you luck.

Long Distance Caregiving: How Can I Help My Son From Afar?

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Long Distance Caregiving: How Can I Help My Son From Afar?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 22, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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