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Monday, October 13, 2008 bluebunny, Community Member, asks

Q: can stress cause a schizophrenia attack or episode?

If someone is under more then normal stress can this cause them to go into a schizoprenia episode? but when not under stress and after the situation causeing stress the episode and systomps of schizoprenia go away.


When put understress i shut down and show symtoms of this including thinking of killing myself how can it be detrimed if it's a stress problem and depression vs. schizoprenia as both are in my family.

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Answers (8)
Jerry Kennard, Health Guide
10/14/08 8:08am

Hi Bluebunny,


Stress is a well known trigger for a psychotic event, even relatively 'mild' levels of stress can be damaging. Schizophenia is associated with difficulties in filtering incoming information - so the person is effectively bombarded with information that they are unable to effectively discard or process in a meaningful way. This is partly why people with sz seem to misunderstand or misread information around them. People with schizophrenia 'feel' stress both physically (increased heart rate, higher blood pressure) and psychologically.


Stress can also cause damage to the brain. Cortisol, which is released as a result of stress, can damage an area of the brain known as the hippocampus. People with sz often experience problems with memory and coordination - two processes controlled by the hippocampus.


Like anyone else who is prone to stress you should take on board stress reduction techniques such as relaxation, or meditation, or yoga, etc.

alerie Olive, Community Member
6/ 7/12 6:15pm

When I think about people with this   - which i can not spell - i alway think of the song this world is not meant for one so beautiful as you

alerie Olive, Community Member
6/ 7/12 6:17pm

In my view sensitive types of people who have no outlet

Christina Bruni, Health Guide
10/14/08 9:56am

Hello bluebunny,


With the history of SZ and depression in your family, you need to consider carefully what's going on in your own life.  How often do you cycle in and out of stress-provoked schizophrenic episodes?  How quickly do you bounce back into a well state after each episode?  Are you able to function to the degree that you would like?  Are the schizophrenic episodes disabling?  I don't see how any schizophrenic episode could be a good thing, and if I had the choice, I'd rather not have a schizophrenic episode at all, then to keep riding them out when they come and go.


There is a diagnosis, "Brief Reactive Psychosis" that psychitrists give a patient who has undergone extreme stress, and I agree with everything Jerry, the other expert, wrote.  He said that even mild stress could provoke a schizophrenic episode in someone who has a tendency towards SZ.


You have to be honest with yourself about the level and intensity and frequency of the stressors that set off your schizophrenic episodes.  One major life stressor could cause a brief reactive psychosis; everyday irritants that cause a similar reaction are another story.  Be honest with yourself: do you want to keep having psychotic episodes when medication could possibly stop them, or at least alleviate their severity and frequency?


The point is, stress can cause schizophrenia.  From what you've said, you haven't been able to control, stop or halt your stress.  You seem to be suggesting that if the stress is out of your life, the schizophrenia will be gone too.  Again, you need to be honest about your history of having symptoms.


I know others [and I myself had stress-induced schizophrenia] who decided to stop their medication once they got better, and this resulted in the SZ coming back in full force.  It's like playing Russian Roulette: you don't know when the last episode will occur that will send you permanently over the edge, and that could happen if you just keep letting stress "pull the trigger."


If I had the choice between having symptoms or having an episode every so often, and being on the medication and not having symptoms or being able to control the symptoms so that I didn't have a psychotic episode, the choice is clear to me.


My break with reality was sudden, total and irreversible.  Even though the stress was out of my life, when I stopped taking the meds, I relapsed.


I believe you owe it to yourself to consider taking some kind of SZ medication.  Having a schizophrenic reaction every time you're under stress is not healthy, and you deserve peace of mind.




alerie Olive, Community Member
6/ 7/12 6:23pm

no always sometimes with this problem condition call it what you like frustration may be a key element most are toooooo clever to fit in





alerie Olive, Community Member
6/ 7/12 6:25pm

have you ever had an attack



meanstoway, Community Member
9/12/12 3:05am

  my father tried to inflict munchausen on me as a teen ager. hewanted a dr to diagnose a happy healthy kid without schizophrenia with some kind of illness. my fahter was a MD> the word was not in my vocabulary buti had overcome an eating disorder where in worst i felt schizophrenic symtpoms from shock and the illness and depression. it took me to near madnes. and then i got well no drugs, and my life was happy and perfect. this man my father was probably and my family mentaly ill and never recovered. i had a artistic life and high capacity to recover i was young and conciou of health. no drugs. 

   as my father asaulted me with my worst fear. traumatizing me. he had no regard to stress or my illness from any day. i understood trauma was an issue. he was an ignorant MD. wiht food issues he never took care of. angry hostile. abusive and i was a happy go lucky winner and healed.

 i never took drugs . as it goes this man would abuse me for 15 years. and i begged drs toremove me before he pushed me back into my real condition. all they cared about was drugs. drugs are not the answer. 

 i did the right thing to ask for right care to be removed, but did not gret this til 15 years later , after i realized i would not be heard i had to do somethign and took my self out of my family and drs. it worked. then i started a program for abuse and trauma, and it also took me to top of world. i had alot of things to heal from. autism and other and seizure and speach. i was a mess but i was lucky i took care of myself.. i healed very well and high no drugs..

     i had spirit nad took it to max. my life soared but drs ignored the need to monitor trauma and abusers. i did it all alone and i had many abusive people try to beat me down.. ' i had 17 years of briliant story and used no drugs to do this. just one day at time god and meditation not medication and kept healthy happy. i was a high energy person and entertaining.


 over and over i tried to get drs to adress ptsd which i suffered and that could cause mental problems if it was not given removal.. i did all of my work myslef but the last year brought me  from moving to top and having it all back to worst tragic after begging ad r and not getting what i needed, and left to be a victim of some sick ending. my healjhty life came to an end. i was put into several over loading situations and then i felt the crack , the real crack and reality and health and my life personaity and all disapeared. i became angry now that the life i perfected and loved was destroyed despite i made prudent steps to not become a mentaly illperson. another mentaly ill person put me in stress, and i went into shock and could not escape it before they did the fatal damage. after this i began to suffer serious symptoms of depression loss of idneity talent and ability to socialize thrive or think. my life went down the drain despite i got to dr a year ago before it could reach this point. i tried every means to not become mentaly ill from stres over load now i suffer serious and fatal condtions.i do not want to live now. as before i did and wanted to keep what i had. my body did not need drugs to heal but i needed space from any threats and a dr to know this. i was not given and when i tried to get it myself it led to a fatal situation.

  i loved my life, and now i am classifyably disabled and probaby will never see a happy life or talented life again or make money. it all happened in a final flash. prior to this i  had a perfect diet, attitude a survival instinct but my brain just cracked under the last straws.. the person i was cought in with was a very stressful abusive mentality who i could not seperate from while in shock. my brain failed then it just went hay wire and did not come back. i lost 17 years of brilliant story. 38 years of struggle to become that person that talent. and even if i lived them right, i was just getting to where i wanted and god meant me to be. drs komw this cycle. they are supposed to by common sense but do not care to prevent someone from being mentaly ill to dose themw with drugs and see them become useless. makes no sense. i without a med school knew this. my brain tried to prevent the loss and go into a survial and first aid state. i got to dr a year before this part took place. arrogant. ignorant. now i am paying.

Chris, Community Member
10/16/08 3:44am

I am glad that you have had two answers to your specific question from the experts on the forum.


I would like to comment, as a non expert, hopefully constructively, but less specifically to your query., more responding to the anxious distressed 'flavour ' of your post. There is suffering here. Do seek help. You will be understood.


From reading your post it seems that you definitely are experiencing significant severe negative mood , with ideas of self harm, triggered by external stresses.


 As Christina suggests, that surely warrants urgent  thorough assessment by a sympathetic psychiatrist so a plan towards  relief, can be put in place.

You owe it to yourself....


 The plan might well be a combination of de-stressing meds , tailored to your needs and some listening therapy for example. You have great insight . It seems likely with your FH that you may have sz/ bipolar spectrum tendencies under stress.

 Best to avoid the trauma of a full blown flare and have some defences in place.From my understanding this approach can sometimes avoid a big guns approach of crisis management and reqire lower dosage of meds.


Good luck,



retired doc (non psych)

Family member  has untreated episodic psychosis

alerie Olive, Community Member
6/ 7/12 6:28pm

i have and never had any self harm issues and I AM A CATHOLIC happily but have a daugher I dont understandts

Betty Boo, Community Member
5/ 6/10 5:19am

Hi there,

I'm keen to share my experience.  I was diagnosed with schizophrenia 20+yrs ago (I was 26yrs approx).  I describe it as mild as I have never been hospitalised and have been on stelazine 2mg for many years now.  I find I live as normal a lifestyle and work in the health profession. When I am in my family gatherings, these stress me out, then I get symptoms of stress, no apetite, can't sleep, a sudden lack of motivation, can't face people, paranoia.  Unfortunately its when I feel I need to play the big sister role to show I can do it, and if I can't do this my attack of paranoia and stress start.  I can't organise or help the family on the big event day-such as funerals, weddings because I'm stressed out to the max-whereas in normal everyday living I am very capable. I have found that when i'm helping my husbands family or its another family its fine. But when I'm with my own family (ie:my parents, and their families, my sis's and bro's that my stress symptoms arise). When the event is over such as a wedding or funeral, my symptoms ease and I carry on as usual in a happy and normal/motivated.  I have a feeling that I get paranoid when I'm expected to fulfil my big sister role to the best, I also feel because my late mum was such a role model that her many people looked up to, I need to be like that. So when I feel I can't display such standards like my mum thats when symptoms just click in -its so frustrating.  Is there any one out there in a similar situation?  I would like to find a cure.  I have had both my sons 21st birthdays and I was stressed out to the max and I didn't enjoy it - organising was fine, but come to the day -I was a mess - I put on a face but I wasn't myself!!  Can anyone help me - how do I click out.  I believe that stress can cause a scizophrenia episode and it go's away.  I'd like to know how can we click out before symptoms carry on.Thank you, Betty Boo

Christina Bruni, Health Guide
5/ 7/10 10:36pm

Hello Betty Boo,


I'm not certain I have a specific answer related to your question however I will try to answer it in the way I feel I can.


I have a similar thing where I would worry what people thought of me and started to get anxious.  I was also on stelazine for 20 years until it stopped working and I was prescribed Geodon which has been like a miracle drug.


The first thing that comes to my mind is that maybe your dose could be elevated to 5 mg if you've been on 2 mg for 20 years.  I can't tell you to do that becuase I'm not a psychiatrist you would have to consult your own doctor. 


Otherwise what you describe appears to be situational.  What happened for me I recall vividly was at the rehearsal dinner for my brother's wedding.  My mother catered it at her house and I sat at the dining table across from a woman who was in the bridal party.  I was worried all night what she thought of me so kept a smile plastered on my face.


Recently I had 10 sessions of cognitive therapy which helped greatly.


I would suggest for you cognitive therapy and also like I said a possible dose change.  Cognitive therapy worked wonders for me.




Betty Boo, Community Member
5/ 9/10 7:40am

Hi Christina, Thanks for sharing your experience and advice.  I wondered if there are others who experience situational episodes like me. I know people who have schizophrenia but are quite unwell.  I have never spoken to someone whith mild or  have 'situational' episodes.  I will look into finding out more on cognitive therapy and yes my GP has advised I increase the stelazine if these episodes occur more frequently.


Betty Boo.

Apassionata, Community Member
6/14/12 7:31am
hey, i think i have something similar. i had a full blown episode a couple of years ago, during which time i was completly out of it but even before then, id get really stressed at a family party or get togather(it dosent happen around friends for some reason). Id get into this wierd zone in my mind where i just coudlnt figure out how to react to something someone said or did. like if someone wud get a llittle expressive, say like someone wud tell me a joke that i wudnt find funny i wud just blank out all of a sudden and kind of give a blank stare. after that id just keep thinking what i looked like when that happened and what the other person thought of me. and in this frame of mind id just kinda get detached from everyone and get into a wierd existential zone until id have a hallucination(i didnt know it was a hallucination back then).. like id hear someone say whts wrong with him or something humiliating , at which point id pop out and put on a show until it wud happen again.. it wud become like a cycle and the whole evening would be really hard to go through.. im 23 and i was taking zyperexa olanzipine for a year when i had the really bad episode during which i was pretty much catatonic, but i got back to normal in a year taking the meds. its been a year now without meds n i had been fine.. better thhen ever until recently i went through some mild stress and started having a disorganized pattern of thinking and eventually auditory hallucinations. im normally an incredibly organized person, i wish there was a spell i could say to become organized at will whenever that wud happen.. :) Reply
alerie Olive, Community Member
6/ 7/12 6:36pm

You are feeling a sense of insecurity we all do that keep nice images in your mind you will pull throuhg because of what you have written I know you can



alerie Olive, Community Member
6/ 7/12 6:31pm

to me you are the same as all just loving and sensitive no fault there in a very unkind world sometimes you are too lovely and god loves us all no matter what or religion

ZGMFX20ASF, Community Member
6/ 2/10 11:06am

uh just take a hell lot of antipsychotics?

alerie Olive, Community Member
6/ 7/12 6:12pm

I would say that you are very sensitive and to if you can take time out    realise everyone feels similar no shame in feelings obviously there are some people you may meet that are not so good but thank god they are generally inthe minority 

alerie Olive, Community Member
6/ 7/12 6:20pm

This is for only  a moment which may seem to last but does go you are creative and sensitive ride the moment will last longer for you because but will go hope is always

meanstoway, Community Member
9/12/12 2:51am

everyone has a differerent level or breaking point. they say god doesnt give u more than u can deal with but others can dish it or something. so u must stay within the reason of ur stress. when u brain has enough it wil crack. i had an unusual sick situaation where my father wanted me to be sick. he inflicted stress on me a child who had recovered from a very traumatic illness after three years. he was not even interested in this. or what i did. or that stress trauma played a part. he pushed me to work a job. i did it did not stress me.but what he did after that did. and then he lied  abou tit to himself and drs and told them i was diagnosed with schizophrenia. i was not. i was in shock from his actoins.i began then to suffer more trauma. but my brain learned a step to  try to prevent a schizophrenic state. but after being abused for years and years. finaly someone found a means to try to take this and to reverse my miracle life and to over load and remove a part of my survival instinct to make me lose my health after years of healthy happy life. between not one dr removed mefrom trhe over load before stress cracked me. i say yes stress is the major issue. and part of brain means to deal with it malfunction, or need repair.

     avoiding stressful abusive people situations. over load. dont let drs tell u shit.

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By bluebunny, Community Member— Last Modified: 05/05/13, First Published: 10/13/08