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Ask the Experts


My son is now 18 and going to be 19 and I am searching for help to get him a proper diagnosis.

Doctors told us that he has bipolar disorder, but he hears and sees terrible things. I am willing to do whatever it takes to find him the right help. He is my only son and I need him to be okay. PLEASE help me.

Answered by: Cheryl Corcoran

To hear and see terrible things is to have hallucinations, which are a form of psychosis. Psychosis can occur in many diagnoses, including bipolar disorder, as well as major depression, PTSD, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

Psychosis can also occur as a result of drug use - typically steroids, methamphetamine, cannabis, ketamine, etc. So the fact that your son hears and sees things doesn't mean that the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is necessarily wrong. However, bipolar disorder doesn't always include psychosis. The main thing is that if your son is seeing and hearing terrible things, his doctor should be made aware of this so he could prescribe an antipsychotic medication to treat these symptoms. Many antipsychotic medications also have mood-stabilizing properties, which can help with bipolar disorder. The subtext of your question though is that you say "doctors told us . . ". What would be most helpful is to find ONE doctor whom your son likes and trusts, who can learn about all his symptoms and treat them, and who can follow him over time . . . so that your son can move towards real recovery from whatever illness he does have, and achieve satisfaction and happiness in work and relationships and his sense of self.