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Question:

My son has some kind of brain problem. The doctors don't know what it is yet. To me it fits schizoaffective disorder. I don't know which one or how many there are. Is there a cure for it? After treatment, will my son be normal? By normal I mean, will someone be able to talk to him without knowing that he is ill? It was just a month ago that he started hearing voices. He also has depression and delusions. He just turned 18 and has his whole life ahead of him.

Answered by: Cheryl Corcoran

Your son has had a very recent onset of psychotic symptoms. Early on, psychotic symptoms tend to be very responsive to treatment. This is a critical window for your son to avoid chronicity. There is no cure per se but there is excellent treatment. Comprehensive integrated treatment for your son should include medications for psychosis and mood symptoms, which it is important he takes, as well as supported education or employment, so he can get back to school or work. Support of family and friends is key. Any sort of illegal drug use is a bad idea for him. Recovery is within reach for young people with such a recent onset of psychosis, and unless his illness is particularly refractory to treatment, your son should certainly reach a point in which someone will be able to talk to him without knowing he is ill. I highly recommend the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill - NAMI - to you, which is an organization of families that offers support and instrumental advice regarding having a family member (usually a child) who becomes ill.