Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My 22-year-old son just dropped out of college for the third time. His three good friends went to other colleges and he didn’t make new friends at college, and he didn’t date. He complained about all the students and how shallow they are.
He acts suspicious of us when we ask why. He becomes abnormally angry and cuts our conversations short. He stays in his room for days. Then he pops out like nothing happened.
He doesn’t seem to care about anyone. He just stares at us when we talk about things going on with people he knew.
He keeps changing the way he dresses.
He doesn’t sleep at night and roams around the house in the day without shaving, showering, or speaking to anyone. When he does sleep, he has to have complete darkness.
He spends most of his time watching movies.
We know he’s cutting himself, we’ve seen the pictures. He won’t turn over our kitchen knife.
We have friends who said it sounds like their teenage son, who’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia. We looked it up and we’re scared for him.
We’ve suggested taking him to a doctor and he won’t go.
He seems to have several symptoms related to schizophrenia: withdrawal, paranoia, inability to feel and express sentiments or emotions. He seems detached and is escaping reality.
His unexplained hostility, resentment and aggression – especially with authority figures like parents – not taking care of hygiene, and not participating in the same activities he used to enjoy and especially not engaging with the opposite sex are concerning.
Not thinking clearly or recognizing what’s real and unreal, or not managing intense emotions, and not being able to relate to others easily, or not functioning well, can be problems for him.
However, be aware that the symptoms mentioned are not all-inclusive and some may not apply at all to some people diagnosed with schizophrenia. Many of the symptoms may be caused by another type of disorder such as: Bipolar personality, Borderline personality, depression, and more.
Because your son’s self-harming, we highly suggest your family receive professional help. If your son isn’t compliant, there are involuntary measures to have your son evaluated.
Schizophrenia (and other disorders) may be treated with psychotherapy, medications, and support from family. Misconceptions about this brain disease include: people with schizophrenia are dangerous (no), they have multiple personalities (no), they can be cured (no, they can learn to manage it), it’s rare (no – 1 in 100 may develop it).
Regardless of the diagnosis, your family needs talk-therapy. Have faith; there are answers available for all of you.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri