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Home » I Suspect that My Girlfriend Is Developing Schizophrenia

I Suspect that My Girlfriend Is Developing Schizophrenia

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I have been with my girlfriend for three years. She comes from a broken home; her mother was a schizoaffective cocaine addict who committed suicide when my girlfriend was 12, and her father is emotionally abusive, driving her to move out when she turned 18 two and a half years ago. We have been living together ever since. About two years ago, she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder after a serious suicide attempt that left her in a coma and subsequent complications that resulted in mild brain damage. She was also diagnosed with PTSD at a young age and recalls being very overly-attached to her mother for most of her childhood.

She told me several years ago that she has visual and auditory hallucinations, especially at night. She is sometimes scared by them, but she has always been highly aware that they are not real. I have long understood them to be a result of childhood sexual and emotional abuse, but now I am not so sure.

Recently she informed me that she has been very anxious at work, feeling like people are constantly staring at her. She also said her visual hallucinations are worsening, and she worries that people can tell what she’s thinking. She takes Risperidone and Paxil, as well as Propranolol, and has been since her suicide attempt. I have urged her many times over the years to seek therapy, but whenever she agrees, she stops after only a month or two, saying she doesn’t feel like therapists are trustworthy. She seems to believe that they are trying to gain something, and that they don’t have their patients’ best interests at heart.

I worry that her paranoia may be the start of some sort of schizophrenic delusion, especially given the increased intensity and frequency of her hallucinations. She is generally very aware of when she’s being irrational, but she has been steadfastly insisting that customers are staring at her constantly and that her employees are thinking horrible things about her. She has even snapped at me, insisting that I don’t get it when I tell her that nobody is likely thinking anything more than a passing thought about her.

I need to know how to help her without making her feel persecuted. I’m the only support she has left in her life and I want her to get help ASAP.

 

I Suspect that My Girlfriend Is Developing Schizophrenia

Answered by on -

A.

There does seem to be some escalation or change in her symptoms which is worrisome. It’s difficult to know what might be causing it. There are several possibilities including a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia, but it can also be related to stress, PTSD, or her mild brain damage. There may be other possibilities as well. Without a mental health evaluation, it’s difficult to know with certainty what the problem might be.

What’s most important is encouraging her to report these symptoms to her treating physicians. They will likely adjust her medications in an effort to target these new symptoms. Her symptoms can likely be controlled with medication. It’s better to treat these symptoms sooner rather than later to prevent them from developing into a psychotic episode or disorder.

Because of her symptoms, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for her to trust the people around her, even those close to her. This underscores the importance of her reporting her symptoms and having her medication adjusted. You mentioned wanting her to go to therapy. That might help her in the future, if she were willing to go, but right now what is most important is her consulting with her treating physician about these symptoms. That will give her the best chance of preventing these symptoms from worsening.

Finally, if she won’t report her symptoms to her doctor you can report them for her. Privacy laws prevent her doctor or treatment team from discussing her case with you (unless she has given them explicit permission to do so) but there is nothing that prevents you from contacting them to report your concerns. At least they’ll know what’s going on and might be able to help. Please feel free to write again with additional questions. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

I Suspect that My Girlfriend Is Developing Schizophrenia

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). I Suspect that My Girlfriend Is Developing Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/09/14/i-suspect-that-my-girlfriend-is-developing-schizophrenia/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.