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OCD or Schizophrenia?

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Hello, I have never had a formal diagnosis however over the past 13months I have been dealing with OCD (I believe). I had some issues when I was younger with OCD symptoms (checking etc) however it went away and has remained dormant for over 20 years. About a year ago at work I started feeling dizzy and nearly fainted when speaking with a patient, which I though was a panic attack. I actually had an ear infection but from then on my mind was obsessed with panic attacks, which actually lead me to have them. Over the past 12months I have had extremely intrusive and crazy thoughts, e.g. of harming my partner, things of religious nature and strange sexual thoughts. I become obsessed with these thoughts and they play around in my mind for days or weeks sending me crazy (and making me very upset). When I went to europe in the year they disappeared as I was kept busy. And I have found that by not avoiding situations, e.g. not hiding knives in fear of harming my partner and facing fears like seeing the number 666, that the thoughts have severely decreased over the past month. However I read something about schizophrenia and it seems like some of my weird thoughts sounds like schizophrenic thoughts. After 4 weeks of doing really well I am now back in a crazy mess worrying I have misdiagnosed myself and could have the beginnings of schizophrenia. This has all occurred over 13months, therefore if that was the case I would have assumed it would have developed by now. This is the only thing helping me not to worry. I have not let my obsessive thoughts affect my friendships, I am still social and enjoy social activities as they provide welcome break for my mind.

What are your thoughts? Regards.

Though I cannot be certain, your symptoms seem more characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) than schizophrenia. In fact, it’s relatively common for individuals with OCD to believe that they have schizophrenia or another condition.

I would recommend seeing an OCD specialist. There are many effective treatments that could help decrease your symptoms or eliminate the disorder. It seems to be an “off and on” problem for you. Receiving formal treatment by a trained specialist could help to eliminate it from your life. As you noted, OCD does not simply go away. For many people, it becomes worse over time.

The find help tab, at the top of this page, can help you locate a specialist in your community. You may also want to read about OCD. One of the best and most effective treatments for OCD is exposure prevention and response therapy. Try to choose a therapist who has received training in that particular type of therapy. I wish you the best of luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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