What Do you Do when a Schizophrenic Refuses to See a Doctor?


Asked by kay1990

What To Do When Someone With Schizophrenia Refuses To Go To The Doctor?

I think my brother has schizophrenia. he showed almost all the symptoms but refuse to go to the doctor. he is almost 26 years old and causing a lot o trouble to my family. my questions is how do I get him to the doctor ? he lives in Saudi Arabia and I am living in the United States right now. unfortunately I can't go to him any time soon. I want to know what good ways to help him out and where he can go for help in Saudi Arabia.


Hello kay1990,

I'm sorry your in such distress.

First I will address the fact that your brother is in Saudi Arabia. If that's anything like some of the other Middle Eastern countries, there might not be a very good mental health system in place that offers options like a day program. Should you be able to get him to see a regular medical doctor who can then refer him to a psychiatrist that might be one way to go after the items I'm going to list below.

I get this same question almost every month by a family member who is concerned their loved one has schizophrenia and refuses to take medication and stay in treatment.

For various reasons, including stigma and fear of being labeled crazy, a person might not want to get the help he so desperately needs.

One of the biggest obstacles you might be facing is that your brother has anosognosia, or in plain English the lack of awareness that you have an illness. Anosognosia affects upwards of 60 percent of the people diagnosed with schizophrenia. So if you don't think you're sick you won't take medication.

I recommend if you suspect your brother has anosognosia you see the LEAPInstitute resources. Its founder, Dr. Xavier Amador, Phd wrote the classic guide to helping a loved one get treatment and stay in treatment: I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help (Vida Press 2010 version is the best version).

If you are at all in contact with your brother whether it is via Skype, regular phone, e-mail or Facebook private messages, know that you might be able to influence him to go see a doctor even if his decision doesn't come immediately or quickly.

Continue to dialogue with him in his preferred method of communication. Read the Amador 2010 book. The key is to keep open a relationship of trust so that when the time is right for you to suggest he get help he will be more willing to consider your option.

Telling him "You're sick so you need help" won't do the trick. Tens of thousands of family members have lost this war in endless futile attempts to convince their loved ones they are sick.

Helping your brother see that taking medication would enable him to achieve a life goal or solve a problem he is having (like insomnia) is often a better way to go about persuading him to seek help.

Instead of giving your opinion whe he hasn't asked you for it try the Amador LEAP technique outlined in detail in I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help. You will be able to know when the time is ripe for you to ask your brother if he would like to hear what you think.

Amador suggests phrasing it in terms like "So, can I give you my opinion? Because it sounds like we might have a misunderstanding," When you do give your opinion, be humble and phrase it like this: "I could be wrong yet . . ." Then say something like "I might be wrong yet since you ask I think the medicine will help you stay out of the hospital (insert the goal your brother might have if he hasn't been in a hospital yet)."

Above all, refrain from arguing with your brother or battling with him. Always, show and tell him you love him and are concerned about him.

I spent the better part of close to the last two years exchanging private Facebook messages with a guy I love more than life itself. About five months ago he finally committed to sticking with his medication and getting treatment.

So remember: the goal is not to get your brother to admit and recognize he is sick. The goal is to get him to accept treatment and take medication.

Focusing on how taking meds willl enable him to achieve a life goal or solve a problem is a better use of your time than telling him he has schizophrenia when he might not believe it.

I hope what I've written is good information.



You should know: The answer above provides general health information that is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment recommendations from a qualified healthcare professional.