Max was sitting on the bus coming home from school when, out of nowhere, he heard a voice telling him to get off the bus. Off the bus? He wasn’t even halfway home yet. He dismissed the command, thinking maybe he’d overheard someone else’s conversation. Later that night, watching TV, he heard someone tell him he’d been chosen. Chosen for what? Who was talking to him? Be patient, the voice said, and I will explain everything…
Max’s friends were wondering what was wrong with him. In class, during lunch, on the bus he’d sit staring into space. When he did talk it was in rambling and disconnected sentences that made no sense. Sometimes it even seemed like he was talking to himself. After a while he took to staring at them and watching every move that they made. It was as if he was paranoid or something. His hair was long and scraggly and he didn’t seem to care about how he looked anymore. His friends started leaving him alone – maybe he was into drugs and not telling them. Maybe it was a phase.
The rate of violent behavior from someone with schizophrenia is no higher than a person without schizophrenia. In fact, those with schizophrenia are more often the victims of violence than the perpetrators. This may be due to the fact that many people fear what they do not understand or view as different.
“…My illness is part of me, sometimes a small part, sometimes a big part, but it doesn’t define who I am.” – Wendy Matthews
Schizophrenia is usually “triggered,” for example by a traumatic event (death of someone close, involvement in serious car accident). The cause can also be linked to genetic vulnerability and environmental conditions (e.g. stress). The incidence of this mental illness is of 1.5/100. Marijuana can be a trigger for schizophrenia. That is to say, while it is not a cause for schizophrenia in those who are not vulnerable to developing schizophrenia, it can be dangerous to those who already have a predisposition to the disorder. This is because of the chemical contained in marijuana (THC).
- symptoms last 2 weeks or more
- sleep disturbances (too much or too little)
- changes in eating habits (weight loss or gain)
- loss of pleasure (in things that were previously pleasurable)
- anxiety, hopelessness
- negative thinking about oneself (e.g. I can’t do anything right. I’m not a good person)
Early signs can include: deterioration of personal hygiene, social withdrawal, isolation and/or reclusiveness, a shift in basic personality, inappropriate laughter, dropping out of activities.
These symptoms are characteristics that are added to the personality:
- Hallucinations (visual and auditory). Sometimes think their thoughts are being broadcast i.e. others can read their mind; or something heard on the radio or something heard/seen on TV was meant for them only – i.e. a specific message for that individual.
- Accompanied by disorganized thinking (difficulty to plan)
- Grandiosity (believing themselves to be very powerful, famous or having special powers).
- Suspiciousness (fear they are being watched, feeling persecuted, conspired against)
- Delusions (false belief, but one that is unshakeable, and one that they do not believe to be false, even when presented with evidence that contradicts the belief).
- Inaccurate memories of past events: Some individuals may seem to have forgotten events, or their version of what happened does not seem to match what may have happened, even though they are not experiencing delusions now. It is possible that the individual was suffering at the time from an acute delusional episode. Therefore, even when they are no longer in the delusional episode, they will continue to remember events from that time through the “lens” through which they saw them. This is because their memory recorded the event the way they perceived things at the time.
These symptoms are characteristics that are taken away from the personality:
- lack of hygiene
- lack of motivation (things once cared about no longer matter, no motivation to pursue the plans or dreams they once had).
- social withdrawal (lack of interest in seeing anyone)
- lack of emotion (known as flat affect), neither happiness nor sadness or inappropriate emotions for the situation (e.g. laughing at a funeral).
- lack of spontaneity (speech and movements may seem unnatural or slow).
- difficulty with abstract thinking (may have trouble seeing underlying meaning of things).
- poor communication skills (monotone voice or may appear bored or cold. May not speak unless spoken to, or may reply with one word sentences – referred to as “poverty of speech” or “alogia”).
- stereotyped thinking (strong attitudes/beliefs that may seem unreasonable to others)
When symptoms last 1 month, it is called a brief psychotic episode. When symptoms last 1-6 months it is called a schizophreniform episode. When symptoms last 6 months, the diagnosis of schizophrenia will be given.
- features of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia together.
- from bipolar: mania, grandiose, high energy levels or depression
- from schizophrenia: psychotic features and delusions
“I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help!” By Dr. Xavier Amador. Dr. Amador explains how lack of insight can be a symptom of psychosis. This book describes the LEAP approach (Listen, Empathize, Agree & Partner). Dr. Amador explains how to use this technique to communicate with your loved one who may be lacking awareness, and how to help them seek help despite.
Certain clinics do accept clients that are not registered or do not have a family doctor. To find a clinic near you, click here.
Mental Health Estrie offers support groups for family and friends who have a loved one coping with a mental illness. For more information, click here.
Mental Health Estrie offers support groups for individuals coping with a lived experience of mental illness. For more information, click here.
Organizations and Resources Available
The following is a list of mental health resources in and outside of the Estrie region. Please call ahead to confirm the availability of bilingual services.
JEVI Centre de prevention du suicide – Estrie
120, 11e Avenue Nord, Sherbrooke QC, J1E 2T8
Line of Action: 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553)
Phone (Administrative): 819-564-7349
JEVI is a community organization whose aim is to prevent suicide and promote well-being in the Eastern Townships population. From 1986 to 2000, JEVI offered services to individuals under the age of 25, their parents and close friends and to the professionals working with youth.
Since June 2000, JEVI has been acknowledged as the Suicide Prevention Center for the Eastern Townships region by the Régie régionale de la santé et des services sociaux de l’Estrie. Consequently, services were adapted or developed in order to adequately respond to the needs of the general population of the Eastern Townships region (youth, adults and the elderly).
JEVI offers a complete line of services in promotion, prevention, intervention and postvention actions associated with suicide prevention.
Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychosis (PEPP-Montréal)
Douglas Institute Wilson Pavilion, 6875 LaSalle Boulevard, Montreal, (Quebec) H4H 1R3
Information on first episode of psychosis in Montreal, QC. This is a highly recommended program but it must be the individual’s first episode of psychosis.
“One of the most important ways to improve outcome in psychosis is to initiate treatment early… individuals receiving optimum treatment within six months following onset of psychosis have better recovery than those receiving treatment after a delay greater than six months.” – PEPP
Go to http://pepp.ca/resour.html for more resources.
Mood Disorders Canada Online Discussion Forum
MDSC provides a safe, supportive virtual place to discuss mental illness in our online Discussion Forum. With over 29,000 posts and more than 1,900 discussion threads in operation, if you need somewhere to look for support and guidance this is a great first step! We encourage you to Visit our Forum.
CHUS (Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke)
Address: 3001 12e Ave N, Sherbrooke, QC, J1H 5N4
Addictions/dependencies & mental disorders; help for consumers and family members; bilingual services.
Provincial suicide crisis line
Phone: 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553)
Quebec National Crisis Line
HeretoHelp: Mental health and substance use information
HeretoHelp is a project of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information.
We are a group of seven leading mental health and addictions non-profit agencies. Since 2003, we’ve been working together to help people live well and better prevent and manage mental health and substance use problems. You can learn more about our vision here.
BC Partners work is funded by BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. We also receive some additional support from the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Thanks also to our corporate sponsors for helping to fund our translated resources.
Association des proches de personnes atteintes de maladie mentale de l’Estrie
Address: 574, rue King Est, Sherbrooke (Quebec), J1G 1B5
Phone: 819 563-1363
Mental illness is a complex field that is still full of prejudice. Yet, it can strike anyone, regardless of age, race and social status. In fact, one in five people will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives, rather it be depression, schizophrenia, mood disorders, etc…
Founded in 1981, l’Association des proches de personnes atteintes de maladie mentale de l’Estrie is a community resource with the goal of supporting and informing the loved ones of individuals suffering from mental illness. We also aim to educate and inform the general population about this problem.
Our recommended websites
SHERBROOKE DATABASE OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS : http://www.ville.sherbrooke.qc.ca/fileadmin/fichiers/InfoSherbrookois/hiver2012/4-VieCommunautaireANG.pdf
THE CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION : http://www.cmha.ca/
SCHIZOPHRENIA.COM : http://schizophrenia.com/
DRUGREHAB.ORG : http://www.drugrehab.org/schizophrenia-addiction/