Do I Have Schizophrenia And What Should I Do Now?

By Sarah Fader |Updated July 8, 2022

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that impacts an individual's thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Perhaps you find yourself concerned about symptoms you have been experiencing recently and wonder if this could indicate the onset of schizophrenia. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of schizophrenia and what to do if you recognize these signs to receive appropriate support and treatment.

Taking The First Step In Mental Health Treatment Is Hard

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Schizophrenia is "a serious mental illness that interferes with a person's ability to think, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness, affecting about 1% of Americans."

Common signs and symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Visual or auditory hallucinations: hearing voices or seeing things that are not there.
  • Delusions: beliefs that are not based in reality. This may include believing that someone is 'out to get you,' or the government is targeting you, etc.- even when there is no evidence to support these beliefs, or there is discounting evidence.
  • Difficulty communicating clearly or expressing emotions
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Challenges with processing information and making decisions
  • Difficulties with sustaining focus and concentration

These symptoms can make it very difficult to function daily. They may interfere with carrying out responsibilities at work/school, maintaining relationships, completing household tasks, maintaining proper hygiene, etc.

It is important to note that this is not a comprehensive list of the signs and symptoms of this illness, as it affects all people differently. Some people get each of these symptoms, while others may only experience half of them.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Schizophrenia is "a serious mental illness that interferes with a person's ability to think, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness, affecting about 1% of Americans."

Common signs and symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Visual or auditory hallucinations: hearing voices or seeing things that are not there.
  • Delusions: beliefs that are not based in reality. This may include believing that someone is 'out to get you, or the government is targeting you, etc.- even when there is no evidence to support these beliefs, or there is discounting evidence.
  • Difficulty communicating clearly or expressing emotions
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Challenges with processing information and making decisions
  • Difficulties with sustaining focus and concentration

These symptoms can make it very difficult to function daily. They may interfere with carrying out responsibilities at work/school, maintaining relationships, completing household tasks, maintaining proper hygiene, etc.

It is important to note that this is not a comprehensive list of the signs and symptoms of this illness, as it affects all people differently. Some people get each of these symptoms, while others may only experience half of them.

Here are some ways to treat and manage the symptoms of schizophrenia:

  • This seems simple enough, but while the brain's chemicals distort your thoughts and feelings, regular exercise causes your body to release endorphins and other chemicals that can trigger relaxing and calming feelings. Nothing says that you need to start running marathons, but any enjoyable activity that will get you up and moving will do.
  • Healthy lifestyle habits: Taking care of your physical health is highly connected to your mental health. Following a nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep, and avoiding alcohol or substance use can significantly alleviate symptoms.
  • Manage stress. Having a debilitating mental illness is stressful enough, so do everything in your power to alleviate some of the stressors that are within your control. Also, learn some appropriate coping strategies to manage your stress levels, as we cannot eliminate all causes of stressors in our lives. You might try yoga, meditation, deep breathing techniques, or anything else that you find relaxing. Sometimes simply sitting down and chatting with a friend will do the trick. By managing your stress levels, you prevent your body from releasing the stress hormone cortisol, throwing off the body's chemistry.
  • Medication: Many successful medications treat the symptoms of schizophrenia. Your doctor may want to try medication to see if it can help alleviate some symptoms and increase your quality of life. However, some of the medication prescribed for schizophrenia has some very negative side effects. It is important to discuss these side effects with your doctor to ensure that the pros continue to outweigh the cons. However, you must never stop any psychotropic medication on your own, as you can become very ill. Always discuss any concerns with your doctor and follow your doctor's direction regarding discontinuing medication, as your doctor will likely want to titrate you off the medication.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). If your doctor finds that you are not responding to medication, they may request that you complete a procedure such as ECT, where you are placed under general anesthesia, and the doctor sends waves through your brain to induce a seizure. By doing so, the chemistry in your brain is then quickly changed, and thus the symptoms of your mental illness may decrease. ECT is not a doctor's first choice of treatment usually. However, it can be beneficial for people who have not responded positively to medication.

Why See A Therapist?

Regardless of which form of treatment you receive, it is important to follow up with a licensed therapist to process your mental illness's progress and your thoughts and feelings along with it. It can be extremely difficult to accept and live with a mental illness, such as schizophrenia. By developing a positive rapport with your licensed therapist, you can privately express your thoughts and fears about this scary illness. Also, a therapist can help you decipher between what is part of a delusion or a hallucination and reality.

Due to much of the stigma surrounding schizophrenia, many people diagnosed with this mental illness are ashamed to seek help because they admit that they have an incurable condition. However, there are many discrete ways to begin treating your symptoms and feeling more like your old self. For example, BetterHelp provides the service of private, virtual individual counseling. This means that you access your therapist from the privacy of your own home to discuss what is going on. Your therapist will have access to a private chat room, where you can access the conversation at your convenience. Many have found this type of therapy successful, as it is flexible and tailored to their needs.

Taking The First Step In Mental Health Treatment Is Hard

Is It Going To Be Like This Forever?

As discussed, there is no cure for schizophrenia. However, many treatment options can lessen or eliminate some of the more serious symptoms of this mental illness. By having an honest discussion with your doctor and your therapist, a full treatment plan will be made, and you will be on your way to feeling better. Always remember that every individual is different, so what works for one person may not always be the best option for the next.

It is also important to remember that vast medical breakthroughs regularly happen while there is no cure for schizophrenia. Many scientists and researchers are looking for a cure for this illness. Thankfully, there is a treatment that can be effective for managing symptoms and enhancing daily functioning. By utilizing your doctor and treatment professionals, you can improve your quality of life and accomplish the goals you have set for your life. So, look beyond the stigma and stereotypes and allow yourself to receive the most help you can receive to feel as good as you possibly can.

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.