Am I schizophrenic?

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Are you worried that you might be schizophrenic? The good news is that if you are concerned that you may be experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, you are still mentally aware of the difference between reality and hallucinations/delusions. This means that if you are beginning to show symptoms of schizophrenia, you are still at the early stages of the disease. The best course of action is to make an appointment to be evaluated by a mental health professional. Many of the early symptoms of schizophrenia, before an acute psychotic episode, can actually be caused by less serious disorders; even hallucinations do not necessarily mean that you are schizophrenic. And even if you do develop schizophrenia, receiving an early diagnosis and beginning treatment right away will leave you with a better prognosis for lifetime management of the disease.

Symptoms of schizophrenia usually begin between ages 16 and 30, and very rarely after the age of 45. According to the DSM-IV, a diagnosis of schizophrenia requires that you experience at least two of the following symptoms for one month or more:

  • Delusions--false beliefs that you continue to hold despite evidence that they are false
  • Hallucinations--seeing/hearing/feeling things that are not actually there
  • Disorganized speech--frequent derailment or incoherence
  • Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
  • Negative symptoms--the absence of normal and important abilities, such as a flattening of emotions, difficulty or inability to speak, inappropriate social skills, or lack of interest in most aspects of life

As you can tell from the list of diagnostic criteria, someone who is suffering from acute schizophrenia is almost certainly lacking in the ability to diagnose themselves and/or make informed decisions about their treatment plan. This is why it is so important to seek a medical opinion if you think you may be developing some of the symptoms of schizophrenia--the sooner you get help, the better your outcome.

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