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Schizophrenia At My Age?

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I realize that around my age and older is when symptoms of schizophrenia begin to show. I am extremely concerned that I may have it. I hear voices and see things all the time. The voices in my head introduce themselves to me, and sometimes speak in different languages. I have a friend that has Schizophrenia and she said it is usually obvious, and that it looks as if I am showing early signs. I feel as if I can read other people’s minds. The voices in my head tell me things. Sometimes good, more often bad. It’s affecting my school work because they will shout things at me in Italian. I have done extensive research on schizophrenia, and I have many of the symptoms. Such as delusions and disorganized speech. So far I’ve counted 29 voices in my head. Do I need to check in to a mental hospital? Or do I not even have Schizophrenia. Please help.

I do not believe that you have to “check in” to a psychiatric hospital at this point but you should have a psychiatric evaluation. You can do this several ways. One way is to go to the hospital and request a psychiatric evaluation. Generally, an individual would utilize this option if he or she is experiencing significant or severe distress or there is an emergency. Typically, an individual would be admitted to the hospital if the evaluators suspect that they are a danger to themselves or to others.

Another way to have a psychiatric evaluation is to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. You would choose this option if there was no immediate psychiatric emergency. Your parents can call the local community mental health center and schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist. Your parents can also speak to your primary care physician who may be able to recommend a psychiatrist. Another option, if you have health insurance, is to call the telephone number on the back of your insurance card. The insurance company typically has a list of mental health professionals they recommend and who are “in network.”

As I mentioned above, it is imperative that you are evaluated as soon as possible. Auditory hallucinations are not a common occurrence. It is a symptom that should be investigated very thoroughly. Hallucinations, both visual and auditory, are associated with schizophrenia but they can also be brought on by drug use, fever, organic brain disorders, dementia, and on rare occasions, parasitic infection.

Please speak with your parents immediately about having a psychiatric evaluation. It is best not to assume that you have schizophrenia or any other condition. You will not know what, if any, disorder you have until you have been thoroughly screened by medical and mental health professionals. In the meantime, it is important to remain calm. To the best of your ability, try to engage in activities that are stress-free and that you find relaxing. If the voices are worse during certain times, for instance when you are alone, try to distract yourself either by watching television, listening to music or by being in the presence of others. Other stress reducing activities include physical exercise, deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. I am not suggesting that you engage in these activities as a way to treat a possible diagnosis of schizophrenia. I am simply recommending that you reduce your stress levels as much as possible because increased levels of stress might exacerbate your symptoms.

The next step for you is to speak your parents and to be evaluated. I know it may be difficult but please try not to worry. Worrying increases stress and at this point, you want to focus on stress reduction. Effective treatments exist for virtually every mental health condition. Please do not hesitate to write again if you have any additional questions. I wish you the best of luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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