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A Psychiatric Diagnosis is Required for Proper Treatment

answered 01:06 PM EST, Wed April 25, 2012
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anonymous anonymous
My 16 year son seems really different to me lately. I thought it was just normal teen stuff but I caught him a couple of times over the last couple of months and it seems like he is arguing with someone but there is no one else there. He also seems sort of paranoid or something all of the time, like he asked me if he could put a lock on his door and he has talked about someone following him on his walk to school. He was a really good basketball player but he quit the team this year saying he didn’t want to do it anymore and when I saw the coach a couple of weeks ago in the grocery store it seemed like the coach was trying to tell me something about my son’s behavior but didn’t quite know how to say it so didn’t say much in the end.

I tried talking to him about this but he says everything is fine. He is spending a lot of time by himself now and a lot less with friends - actually he doesn’t seem to ever hang out with friends anymore. At first I thought it was drugs but I talked to him about this and I really don’t think he is on anything. I am getting kind of scared but my husband says he is just going through a normal phase. Should I be worried about what I am seeing? I feel like he needs to see a doctor or something but we have no insurance right now so I am not sure if I should wait and see or divert some household money for this now.

Dr. Shirley Schaye Says...

I am so very sorry to hear about what is going on with your son. I want to first before I say anything more is tell you that it is wonderful to see what a tuned-in and caring mom you are. You are so right on for being concerned about your son. This does not sound like a normal phase as your husband seems to think. Let me parse what you have said point by point so that you will understand why I believe that what is happening is not a normal phase of adolescent development. If he was just not talking to you a lot, staying in his room to avoid you but still hanging out with friends and normally socializing with friends, I would say --- not to worry --- and as your husband said --- this is a normal phase. But that is not what you are describing.

Let's go over all the issues you have mentioned.

  1. He is arguing with someone but there is no one else there.
  2. He also seems sort of paranoid or something all of the time:
    1. like he asked me if he could put a lock on his door  --- that's normal adolescent behaviour.
    2. he has talked about someone following him on his walk to school --- not normal.
  3. He was a really good basketball player but he quit the team this year saying he didn’t want to do it anymore. One would want to know why. This doesn't necessarily mean it's not normal. However  when you saw the coach a couple of weeks ago in the grocery store it seemed like the coach was trying to tell you something about your son’s behavior but didn’t quite know how to say it so didn’t say much in the end. That would then make my antenna go up. What you should do is put in a call to this coach and ask him what he was trying to tell you. This would probably be valuable information in trying to diagnose what is going on.
  4. You tried talking to him about this but he says everything is fine. That doesn't mean that everything is fine. You yourself have listed several things as highlighted above, in addition to:
    1. He is spending a lot of time by himself now and a lot less with friends - actually he doesn’t seem to ever hang  out with friends anymore.
    2. At first I thought it was drugs but I talked to him about this and I really don’t think he is on anything.

You indicated that you are getting kind of scared but your husband says he is just going through a normal phase. Your husband, as I already indicated is not correct. Given the symptoms you mentioned you should be worried about what you are seeing. You are definitely right on that he needs to see a psychiatrist so that he can be properly evaluated and diagnosed. He is showing symptoms of paranoia and he is delusional. Those are not symptoms to be taken lightly. Both are psychotic symptoms. These symptoms also emerge during late adolescence, young adulthood.  You may want to go to this link to read about the possible diagnosis: http://counsellingresource.com/lib/distress/schizophrenic/schizophrenia-dsm/schizophrenia-symptoms/

I haven't evaluated him and certainly can't make a definitive diagnosis without an in-person evaluation of your son, but my antennae go up hearing about the symptoms he has.

I hear what you are saying that you have no insurance right now. However, you should not wait. You need to take him to see a psychiatrist ASAP. Yes, you should divert some household money for this now. You can go to your local hospital emergency room. Call them and ask them if they offer adolescent psychiatric services and ask them what the costs would be. If they don't provide adolescent psychiatric services ask them for a referral to a low cost adolescent psychiatric service in your area.

I wish you the very best and please contact me again should you have further questions.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shirley Schaye

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Page last updated Apr 30, 2012

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