She is 18 and has been acting quite unusual for the past few weeks. She keeps on talking to herself and says she hears voices. She also has been saying things that don’t make sense like we are all trying to get at her. I’ve tried to bring her to the doctor but she refuses to go. I’m really worried about her. I don’t know what’s wrong with her. I would really appreciate it if you could help me.

A. I am very sorry that you are dealing with this difficult problem. It is difficult for me to diagnose your daughter. She is demonstrating some of the symptoms of schizophrenia but without being able to interview her in person, I cannot say with certainty if she has this disorder.

It is unusual for an individual to hear voices. It is not a normal, everyday occurrence. Generally, if an individual hears voices, there are two possible explanations: (1) they may be experiencing psychosis or; (2) they have a serious untreated medical condition. It is important that she is evaluated as soon as possible. I understand that she refuses to see a doctor but you may be able to take action on her behalf or against her will.

If she continues to refuse treatment and her symptoms become worse, then call 911 or the local mental health crisis team. Many communities have a mental health crisis team. The crisis team will come to the home, evaluate the situation and determine any required action. Check with the local health department, the White or Yellow Pages or do an Internet search using the key phrases “(name of your town)” and “local mental health crisis team.”

Another helpful resource is the Treatment Advocacy Center website. They are a nonprofit advocacy website geared toward helping family members who have loved ones with a severe mental illness. A new tool they have developed is the Psych Crisis Resource Kit. It is designed to help family members respond appropriately to mental health crises.

I hope these resources and suggestions are helpful. Please consider writing back and letting me know the outcome of this situation. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to write again. Please take care. I wish you and your daughter the best of luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle