Schizophrenia is one of our most difficult cases to pursue. We will often find that when a schizophrenic is taking their medications they can function very well. Unfortunately what happens in a lot of these cases is that the person suffering from schizophrenia will then feel as if they are cured and refuse to take medication. When the medication is stopped there will be a rapid deterioration of the person’s conditions.
Often times in dealing with a person with Schizophrenia you will see periods of delusions or hallucinations. Some individuals will become totally disorganized in their lifestyle and behaviors, where others will become catatonic. There are usually periods of incoherence or illogical thinking where the schizophrenic is not understanding what is happening in the world around him/her and what is happening in their world in no way reflects what is happening in the real world.
As with other mental disorders, we will sometimes see emotional withdrawal and isolation where the individual refuses to come out of their house or their room, refuses to open mail, answer phones and/or the door. Often times there is an element of paranoia involved in a psychotic disorder. The paranoia could be toward the caregiver, as they have been the one person that has been trusted or the paranoia can be against the world. Sometimes the person suffering from schizophrenia will not be able to recognize the behaviors or signs of the breakdown.
It is then up to the caregiver, the family or the friends to make a mental health professional aware of the difference in behavior and/or the suspicion that the medication is not being taken properly or simply the medication may have lost its effectiveness. Unfortunately, in today’s world with the regulations of HIPPA and privacy, it is often times difficult to get the mental health professionals to listen to the caregiver that is witnessing the breakdown. I encourage the caregivers to call the mental health provider and to actually write a letter to the mental health professional on behalf of the person suffering from Schizophrenia or a psychotic break to make the mental health professional aware of what is happening. That way, hopefully, it will become part of the patient’s record.
Of course, if you think the person will harm his/her self or someone else, call 911 immediately. DO NOT HESITATE, especially given with what has recently been happening in our world at the hands of people suffering from severe mental illnesses. At the very least, the individual should receive a mental health evaluation by a qualified mental health professional.
When I am evaluating this type of claim, I am always concerned about the level of functioning on a day to day basis. I also look at the length and number of breakdowns or deterioration episodes.
Disclaimer: These pages are only observations from my point of view of some of the factors that are present in the diagnosis. I am not a doctor, I am a lawyer and I am only providing observations of various signs and symptoms that I have seen during my practice and/or the signs and symptoms that I evaluate when taking a client in front of an Administrative Law Judge.