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Could This Be Schizophrenia?

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I have been experiencing most of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, except for depression, but I appear depressed to other people. I have some positive symptoms as well, like paranoia (which I’ve had for years) and acute senses. I’m more sensitive to noises, and on a couple of occasions have heard people I know say something or call me, when they claim they didn’t. I’ve also experienced some very mild perceptual illusions. I’ll think a shadow is a moving bug, and once I thought I saw smoke in the dining room, but nothing was cooking or on fire. I’ve also felt more violent, reclusive, and hostile, although my general mood is fine and even happy (especially when I’m daydreaming, which is often). My views regarding humanity and religion have gotten passionate and what others would call outlandish and cynical, but I feel like some renegade who’s smarter than all of them, and I don’t talk about aliens or anything that would be considered an overt delusion. I feel…pre-delusional sort of. I do know that my opinions are different and that logic could argue against them, but it doesn’t stop me from believing what I believe. My attention span and short term memory are terrible as of recently as well-my memory problems having started first.

It’s possible that you are experiencing early symptoms of a mental health disorder, potentially schizophrenia or a personality disorder: schizotypal disorder. Among psychotic disorders, early symptoms of psychosis are referred to as the prodromal phase. Research shows that the prodromal phase is characterized by changes in perception, beliefs, cognition, mood, affect and behavior. Nearly 80 to 90 perfcent of individuals who ultimately develop schizophrenia report experiencing early prodromal symptoms.

Many researchers and clinicians believe that patients experiencing prodromal symptoms should begin treatment immediately. The importance of early intervention among individuals experiencing early psychosis symptoms cannot be overstated.

Early treatment of psychosis can prevent the development of a full-scale psychotic episode. I would recommend seeking professional help immediately. Make an appointment with a mental health professional and report your symptoms.

Another consideration is to contact a psychiatric hospital or a local university to determine if they have a “first episode” program. Around the world, there has been an expansion in the number of “first episode” and early psychosis programs. Researchers recognize that early diagnosis and treatment could prevent the development of psychotic episodes or assist individuals in recovering from their illnesses more quickly. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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