Do I Have Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a complex mental health condition characterized by hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, disorganized thinking, abnormal behavior, and social withdrawal. Studies show that schizophrenia affects approximately 24 million people or 1 in 300 people (0.32%) worldwide. The condition makes it difficult for a person to perform day-to-day regular activities, resulting in an increased rate of social isolation, poor communication skills, and other mental illnesses.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that prohibits a person from living a normal life. A person with schizophrenia exhibits symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, paranoia, incoherent speech, psychosis, and much more. These symptoms make it hard for a person to function in a regular manner and make use of their cognitive abilities.

Schizophrenia is a critical mental illness that could have debilitating effects on an individual’s emotional, mental, and physical health, as well as on those around them. Timely intervention is necessary and could prove to be a beneficial step in the journey toward betterment. There are multiple treatment options available for individuals who may prefer to consult a licensed psychiatrist online, rather than visit the psychiatrist in- person.

What are the Symptoms of Schizophrenia?

The symptoms of schizophrenia can be categorized into three categories:

Positive Symptoms
Negative Symptoms
Cognitive Symptoms

Positive Symptoms

Positive symptoms of schizophrenia refer to the symptoms that are ‘additionally’ present in an individual, that result in difficulties in performing day-to-day activities, and hinder the overall growth of the individual. Some of the positive symptoms are as follows:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Abnormal Physical
  • Activity
  • Disorganize Thinking

Negative Symptoms

Negative Symptoms refer to the regular functionalities that are absent in an individual with schizophrenia, hence, the name ‘negative symptoms’. These symptoms restrict a person’s emotional growth, interpersonal and communication skills, and their ability to function like other people. Some of the negative symptoms are as follows:

  • No Emotions or Expressions
  • Incoherent Speech
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Lack of Interest in Leisure Activities

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive Symptoms of schizophrenia refer to the symptoms that affect the mental functionality of a schizophrenic person. These symptoms restrict a person’s cognitive processes, which forces the individual to not make use of their thinking abilities. Some of the cognitive symptoms of the condition are as follows:

  • Poor Problem- Solving Skills
  • Difficulty in Memory Retention
  • Attention Deficit
  • Impaired Verbal Ability
  • Not Being Able to Concentrate

If the above-mentioned symptoms are noticed in a person, it is suggested that they consult a psychiatrist to get an early diagnosis.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have Schizophrenia?

If a person suspects that they have schizophrenia, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Educate Yourself- Educate yourself on the condition. There is a lot to know about schizophrenia. A better knowledge about the condition could help you understand the symptoms in a clear manner and encourage you to take appropriate steps.

Consult a Professional- The most important step is to consult a professional. If you are comfortable in your home- setting and want to consult a psychiatrist online, you could find licensed professional therapists online who would help you find the right diagnosis of the condition and further, assist you with treatment procedures.

Take Note of Your Symptoms- It is vital that you keep a note of the symptoms. Even the slightest abnormalities in your behavior could be a sign of schizophrenia. Making notes of your symptoms could be beneficial for an early diagnosis.

Reach out for Support- Reaching out for support and letting your close- ones know about your inhibitions could be relieving to your mental health. Your loved ones will be your pillars of support and walk with you through your journey toward betterment.

Practice Self-Care- Self-care is crucial for any mental illness. It provides the person with a sense of individuality, which could help them come out of the slump that schizophrenia puts them into. Some of the self-care activities are practicing mindfulness, and yoga, getting adequate sleep, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy diet.

Make Plans in Case of Emergencies- Making plans for emergencies could prove to be beneficial if you feel your symptoms are getting worse. Keeping some emergency contacts on speed- dial, keeping a note of crisis intervention services, and knowing about your nearest hospitals are some of the ways to plan ahead of time.

Educate Others- Spreading awareness and making sure everyone around you is educated on the topic is important. By spreading awareness among your close- ones, they will be better equipped to deal with situations that require extra care and attention.

Follow through with the Treatment Plans- While getting an early diagnosis is crucial, it is equally important to follow treatment procedures that your therapist deems to be fit for you. Following up on your appointments, keeping track of your symptoms, maintaining a journal about your condition or mood swings, and attending regular therapy sessions could prove to be beneficial for individuals with schizophrenia.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have Been Wrongly Diagnosed with Schizophrenia?

Getting a wrong diagnosis could prove to be damaging to a person’s mental health. A wrong diagnosis would not only be detrimental to an individual’s health but also prevent that person from getting appropriate treatment for the condition they actually suffer from.

Following are some ways to make sure you do not get wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia:

Seek a Second Opinion- If you feel unsure about your primary diagnosis, it is suggested that you seek a second opinion for your condition. Make sure the professional you’re consulting has a medical license and notes down your symptoms consistently.

Keep Track of Your Medical Records- It is crucial for your healthcare provider to know about your medical history. To accurately inform them about your medical history, it is suggested that you keep a record of your medical documents/ records, so it is easier for them to reach a correct diagnosis.

Evaluate your Medications- Some medications for other medical conditions could exacerbate the symptoms of the condition, which could lead to confusion in getting the right diagnosis. Therefore, keeping track of side effects caused by other medications is important.

Have an Open Conversation- It is important to clearly communicate with your therapist to know more about the condition. Feel free to ask questions and give your own opinions about the topic. This creates a safe space for you and your therapist to have open conversations about the condition and therefore, reduces the chances of getting a wrong diagnosis.

Know about Differential Diagnoses- There are multiple other conditions that share the same symptoms as schizophrenia and therefore, it becomes imperative to get a correct diagnosis. Some other conditions that have the same symptoms as schizophrenia are Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Brief Psychotic Disorder, and Delusional Disorder, to name a few.

Learn about Psychotherapy- Psychotherapy or ‘talk therapy’ involves one-on-one sessions of patients with their therapists. The therapist helps the patient overcome their difficulties and develop coping strategies that could assist the patient in dealing with their problems in an efficient manner.

How Do I Know If I Have Schizophrenia?

Getting a correct diagnosis from a professional would be an appropriate way to determine if you have schizophrenia. However, before reaching out to a therapist, the following are some things to make a note of to get more clarity on your condition:

Hallucinating- Hallucinations are one of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia. If you experience any one of the five hallucinations, it is suggested that you seek professional help because it could be that you are suffering from schizophrenia.

Getting Paranoid- Paranoia is another symptom of schizophrenia that most individuals with the condition suffer from. It is a common mistrust of people and the belief that everyone is conspiring or plotting against a certain individual. If you experience paranoia or something similar to it, it is recommended that you seek help.

Noticing Abnormal Behavior- Abnormal Behaviors include catatonia, hyperactivity, hypoactivity, limited emotions, and much more. If you find yourself in one of these states, or notice that you are behaving in an odd manner on some occasions, chances are that you are suffering from schizophrenia.

Feeling Depressed or Isolating Yourself- Social Isolation and Depression are two of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia. If you constantly find yourself feeling depressed or feel like you cannot share your problems or condition with anyone, this could result in social withdrawal, which could lead to schizophrenia. Although not the main cause, it exacerbates the condition.

Neglecting Personal Hygiene- Not taking care of your hygiene is yet another sign of schizophrenia. Neglecting personal hygiene is usually a result of extreme depression, and depression is one of the symptoms of the condition. Schizophrenia results in a lack of motivation, and hence, an individual with schizophrenia is never motivated to take care of their hygiene.

Memory Problems- Memory problems are also a result of cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. If you find yourself struggling to remember certain things, solve regular problems, or make simple lists such as grocery lists or to-do lists, you might want to consider consulting a therapist.

Have I Been Wrongly Diagnosed with Schizophrenia?

It is common to be diagnosed with a condition you are not suffering from, just because it shares some of its symptoms with other conditions. However, it is crucial to get the correct diagnosis to start the treatment procedure. Following are some ways to know if you have been wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia:

Inconsistent Symptoms- If you experience symptoms that do not match those of schizophrenia, chances are you have been wrongly diagnosed. Some of the symptoms that are common in other mental illnesses are hallucinations, delusions, social withdrawal, and lack of poor communication skills.

Low Response to Treatment- Since treatment procedures are designed keeping in mind the condition they are designed for, the treatment process for some other mental conditions would not work on an individual with schizophrenia. This would be seen by the level of responsiveness the individual will show after getting that treatment. There would be low or no response to the treatment procedure suggested.

Rapid Onset and Remission- The symptoms of schizophrenia are developed gradually and persist for a long time. However, if you show symptoms that grow rapidly and resolve quickly, it might be some other mental illness and not schizophrenia.

Check Functioning Level- Cognitive and physical functioning are low in individuals with schizophrenia. If you do not find it difficult to make use of your cognitive capabilities and do not experience any of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, chances are that you are not suffering from schizophrenia.

Symptom Triggers- Situations that trigger schizophrenic episodes are more consistent. Stressful situations that trigger some other symptoms are situational and could exacerbate stress disorders. Some of these could be Acute Stress Disorder, Adjustment Disorder, or even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, rather than schizophrenia.

Episodic versus Continuous Symptoms- Schizophrenia symptoms are continuous and occur in a consistent manner. However, these are often confused with conditions whose symptoms appear in episodes, such as Bipolar Disorder, Substance- Use Disorder, Panic Disorder, and much more.

What is the Differential Diagnosis of Schizophrenia?

Licensed therapists use the method of ‘differential diagnosis’ to find out the correct diagnosis of the patient’s condition by eliminating all possible diagnoses until one, which has symptoms similar to the condition, is left.

Following are some differential diagnoses of schizophrenia:

Bipolar Disorder- Bipolar Disorder is a condition that involves extreme mood swings, which include intense highs (hypomania) and lows (depression). Some of the symptoms of the condition that align with those of schizophrenia are psychosis, disorganized thinking, memory problems, flat affect, and delusions and hallucinations.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in an individual is triggered by experiencing or witnessing something traumatic, which puts them in a state of shock, followed by intense fear and avoidance tendencies. Some of the PTSD symptoms that are similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia are intrusive thoughts, hallucinations, paranoia, concentration problems, and flat affect.

Brief Psychotic Disorder- Brief Psychotic Disorder refers to a sudden onset of psychotic symptoms in an individual. These symptoms, however, as the name suggests, last for at least a day or less than a month. Some of the symptoms of the condition that overlap with those of schizophrenia are delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, catatonia, or social withdrawal.

Schizoaffective Disorder- Schizoaffective Disorder is a condition that consists of a combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Some of the symptoms of the condition include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized symptoms, social withdrawal, and incoherent speech, which align with some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Psychotic Depression- Psychotic Depression, also commonly known as Major Depressive Disorder with Psychotic Features, is a condition that is a subtype of severe depression and includes some features of psychosis. Some of the symptoms that it shares with schizophrenia are cognitive problems, hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and avolition.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)- Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by intense and unstable mood swings and behaviors. Individuals with BPD struggle to maintain relationships, have abandonment issues, and might have recurring self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Some of the symptoms of the condition that align with the symptoms of schizophrenia are paranoia, brief episodes of psychosis, disorganized behavior, suicidal behavior, and mood instability.

Substance-induced Psychosis- Substance-induced Psychosis is characterized by the symptoms that occur with substance abuse or withdrawal from substances. These could be drugs like hallucinogens, alcohol, or even medications. The psychotic symptoms surface with the intake of these substances and subside once their effect wears off. Some of the symptoms of the condition that are in common with symptoms of schizophrenia are hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, disorganized thinking, and incoherent speech.

Delusional Disorder- Delusional Disorder is the presence of one or more delusions that usually last for a month or longer. Individuals with a delusional disorder think they are being stalked, followed, or conspired against. Sometimes they may even assume they are a famous personality or a secret undercover agent. The symptoms of this condition include persecutory, grandiose, bizarre, and somatic delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia, with these being some of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia.

If you think you are experiencing some of the above-mentioned symptoms, or suspect that you might have schizophrenia, feel free to reach out for help and seek consultation.

If you think you are experiencing some of the above-mentioned symptoms, or suspect that you might have schizophrenia, feel free to reach out for help and seek consultation.

Visit our website to learn more: https://gabapsychiatrist.com/

References

Virtual Psychiatrist
Fact Checked by
- Dr. Gundu Reddy
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