I am concerned I am developing schizophrenia. Recent events in my life have led me to believe that I may be developing this disease for several reasons. I really began to worry about a month ago. There was a period of my life when I went through heavy substance abuse and just as I was getting sober I began to notice what I think are early signs of schizophrenia. I am more spacy and absent minded, even now that I am sober. It seems that my brain is not processing information as it used to. I do not have hallucinations or delusions but I do occasionally see things that seem a strange play off of reality, for example I look into the sky and the clouds seem to be moving quickly away from me, or I see a coat rack out of the corner of my eye and think its someone standing there for a second. This also occurs with my hearing, sometimes I will very slightly mishear someone saying something or some noise and it sounds like a comment directed towards me. In the past I have had terrifying thoughts, seemingly from no origin whatsoever but I overcame them quickly and am not really bothered by them anymore, however that is what first planted the idea in my mind that i have schizophrenia. And that idea came with an incredible amount of anxiety and fear. It can keep me up some nights, and often times i find myself feeling tense and anxious for no reason at all, even when i try and get my mind of the idea that i may have schizophrenia. I am not sure if it is due to this anxious mindset but I have also found it difficult to find pleasure in things I used to greatly enjoy. It seems as though my reality and the emotions it used to evoke in me are watered down. Any help or feedback will be greatly appreciated, thank you.
I receive many similar questions from people who are concerned about their developing schizophrenia. In most cases, their fears are driven by anxiety rather than actual symptoms of schizophrenia. People with specific types of anxiety disorders, particularly a subtype of obsessive compulsive disorder, tend to be fearful about developing schizophrenia. The symptoms you describe seem to be more indicative of an anxiety disorder rather than schizophrenia. An evaluation with a mental health professional could determine a diagnosis.
Feeling that your brain is not processing information as it used to might be the result of your heavy substance abuse. That’s not an uncommon complaint among people who have abused substances. People will often say that they do not feel as clearheaded as they once did. Drugs and alcohol can negatively impact brain function. The passage of time can reverse this.
My recommendation is to consult both a medical and mental health professional about your concerns. You might also want to ask about medication which could help to decrease your anxiety and stabilize your mood. Remember, anxiety alone can cause all of the symptoms that you have mentioned. Medication might also help you to think more clearly.
Finally, congratulations on ending your substance abuse. Your continued refrain from using substances will help to protect your mental health. Keep up the great work. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle