DEAR DR. ROACH: My married daughter, now 52 years of age, has for the past two years become psychotic and is on antipsychotic medication.
She makes a humming sound, which seems to be involuntary and over which she has no control. She will begin speaking, and then this sound comes from her. Did you ever hear of such a thing? Could it be her medication creating this sound? — J.T.
ANSWER: The medical term “psychosis” has a specific meaning: “a grossly distorted sense of reality.” It’s a symptom, not a diagnosis, and severe psychosis most commonly comes from schizophrenia, although bipolar disease and, to a much lesser extent, depression both can cause psychosis. Given the time course and her age, schizophrenia is the most likely diagnosis.
Schizophrenia is a common condition (affecting almost 1 percent of the world’s population) and is highly variable, with different subtypes and degrees of impairment. Repetitive speaking, singing and humming all are behaviors associated with schizophrenia. Recent studies have shown that humming can reduce the unpleasant auditory hallucinations that frequently occur in schizophrenia. It’s possible that your daughter is using the humming as a way of dealing with this symptom.
Medications for schizophrenia have many side effects, and it’s always wise to consider medications for new symptoms. In this case, I think it’s more likely to be her disease causing the symptom, or her way of dealing with the disease. I would certainly not stop her antipsychotic medication without careful discussion with her psychiatrist.
DEAR DR. ROACH: My question is regarding time. I don’t mind waiting an excessive amount of time on an average follow-up visit with my PCP, providing that some of that time is listening to me and discussing more than one issue. But I do mind waiting, to the point of considering dumping my primary for another doctor, when I’m told “I’m pressed for time — you have three minutes” after waiting an hour or more past my appointment time. My last visit in and out took two and half hours, and I wasn’t the least upset because I felt she listened to me, gave me my referral and told me her future plan of action regarding my issues.