What Are The First Symptoms Someone Would Notice If They Had Schizophrenia
The earliest signs and symptoms come before a diagnosis can be certain. There is now a growing emphasis on identifying young people at high risk for a psychotic disorder and offering treatment and services in advance of a full psychotic experience. At this stage symptoms and signs include problems with personal relationships and school or work performance, experiencing odd phenomena such as hearing a voice or noise but being uncertain if it was really heard, or becoming excessively suspicious. Also, some people may develop a loner lifestyle, a sense that something is wrong and that ones mind is playing tricks, and other things that mark a change in life course. These are not always early schizophrenia symptoms, but it is a good time for clinical assessment and care in hopes of preventing a progression to a full first episode of psychosis.
At first episode of schizophrenia, common symptoms include paranoia, hearing voices or seeing visions, disorganization of thoughts and behaviors, low motivation and reduced experience of pleasure, anxiety, fear, depression, sleep disturbance, social withdrawal and sometimes poor emotional control seen as anger and hostility.
All the signs and symptoms can occur at a mild level in people who are not ill. A diagnosis must look at the severity of the symptoms, their impact on function and resulting distress. It is critical to rule out other possible causes of these symptoms before a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
I Wish It Was More Acceptable
To talk about schizophrenia on social media
Im constantly seeing people talk about depression or anxiety or even bipolar but never schizophrenia or schizoaffective
I agree. There seems to be so much less stigma attached to other mental illnesses
Everybody is depressed or anxious these days. Its very mainstream. Even bipolar is to some extent. Sz and sza are still very hush hush.
Most of the people who know me know that I struggle with depression. I am happy to leave it there. I tell close family members about voices and paranoia but other people dont get the full story.
I think it would be great if there were more examples to look to of people who had recovered or were managing symptoms who ended up living full lives. Theres definitely some people on this forum I think who are doing a good job of it. Sometimes I think thats why I like this forum, it reminds that there people who are worse off and it also inspires me that there are those doing better.
Oh wow, this is awesome! Thanks for the link.
Schizophrenia affects such a small potion of the population and is often described as one of the most debilitating mental health conditions. Most people cant be bothered learning about something that affects so few people and when they do hear about it, it is usually something bad in the news.
Depression and Anxiety are much more common, even more so during this pandemic so a lot of people understand them and relate to them or know someone affected by them.
Who Does It Affect
Schizophrenia can affect anyone. It usually starts to affect people in the teen years, though females often start to experience the illness a little later than males. No one knows exactly what causes schizophrenia or why it can affect people so differently. Genes, the way a persons brain develops, and life events may all play a part.
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Help Them Maintain A Healthy Weight
Medications to treat schizophrenia can cause weight gain, which can increase the risk of obesity-related health conditions. People living with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders have high rates of physical health problems and cardiometabolic risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, says Moe.
Eating a nutritious diet is the best way to maintain a healthy weight, but not everyone can plan their meals in advance. Baker says that caregivers can help by accompanying the person with schizophrenia to the grocery store and talking to them about healthy foods. A registered dietitian nutritionist can also help teach your loved one about making nutritious choices and educate them about meal planning.
Regular exercise is another way to promote weight maintenance and general well-being. Engaging in aerobic exercises like walking or other activities like stretching or yoga can be beneficial for weight management among people with schizophrenia, says Moe. And while not a replacement for appropriate psychiatric care, exercise is a noninvasive and low-cost approach to improving both mental and physical health, Moe says.
Your loved one with schizophrenia should consult with their healthcare providers to determine the best approach for integrating exercise into their wellness plan, Moe adds.
Engage In Your Own Life
Keeping up with your own life such as engaging in hobbies or spending time with friends can help you avoid burnout and look after your own emotional well-being. This could involve anything that is not solely focused on looking after the person with schizophrenia. This may require additional practical support to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved one.
Here are some things you might want to avoid doing when living with or caring for someone with schizophrenia.
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Doing Everything For Them
When your loved one is unable to do chores, errands, or daily tasks, you might try to help by taking over those responsibilities.
But its often more helpful to encourage them to take steps toward doing these things themselves and offering support when needed.
You can also ask if theres anything specific getting in the way of tasks:
- If they havent done laundry because they ran out of laundry soap and feel afraid of leaving the house, you could offer to do a grocery run.
- If they cant prepare meals because a voice threatens them whenever they pick up a knife, you might help them chop a few days worth of vegetables in advance.
You can also offer to help them plan and schedule out weekly responsibilities when you spend time together.
Signs And Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
Typically, the disorder develops in men in their early twenties, later for women . It can run in families if a primary relation has it, there is increased likelihood of suffering from the disorder. Overall, schizophrenia is characterized by the following three categories of symptoms:
Positive symptoms – psychotic behaviors not seen in healthy individuals.
Negative symptoms – behaviors that are easily confused with other disorders like depression.
- Lack of emotion / enthusiasm for daily activities.
- Limited facial expressions or vocal tone – also known as flat affect, it is where the person speaks without inflection or facial changes, things that most people come to expect in the course of normal conversation.
- Limited speech – this is characterized by a person not speaking very much, as opposed to the quality of their speech abilities.
- Inability to sustain activity – one very frequent manifestation of this is the inability to manage personal hygiene.
Cognitive symptoms – like negative symptoms, these are easily confused with other disorders unless specific testing is applied. These symptoms create the most difficulty in social / employment functions.
- Lack of ability to take in information and use it to make decisions.
- Lack of ability to focus.
- Problems with short term, working memory.
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Dont Take It Personally
Schizophrenia can be a difficult illnessfor everyone. During episodes of psychosis, your loved one may experience frightening sensations that you cant understand. They may act in ways that you dont understand. Other symptoms of schizophrenia can make it hard for people to express emotions or feelings, communicate clearly, or seem interested in others. Its important to know that these are symptoms of an illness. They are no ones fault, but they can still be hard to cope with. Consider reaching out to a family and friends support group for your own support. The BC Schizophrenia Society has a directory of groups around BC at www.bcss.org/monthly-meetings-calendar/.
How To Best Support Someone With Psychosis
This article was first published here, on the blog of Dr. Melissa Welby
Psychosis can be a terrifying experience for everyone. When a loved one has a psychotic episode, families, and friends are usually not prepared. The first step is figuring out What is psychosis? and getting a basic understanding of what might be happening. After that, plans can be made for how to deal with the psychosis.
People are often too scared to talk to the person because they dont know how to respond to the psychotic thoughts. It is much easier to support them and stay connected if you know the best ways to communicate. Read this to learn how to help someone with psychosis.
I am not going to talk about the treatment options for psychosis or the importance of early intervention in this post. If you would like to read more about this check out this great resource.
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Do You Need More Help
Contact a community organization like the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about support and resources in your area.
Founded in 1918, The Canadian Mental Health Association is a national charity that helps maintain and improve mental health for all Canadians. As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA helps people access the community resources they need to build resilience and support recovery from mental illness.
Notice What’s Going Well
It can be hard seeing someone close to you experience schizophrenia. They might find it hard to think clearly, have problems understanding what is real, stop taking care of themselves or avoid seeing people.
Try to notice positive things too. It can help to set small, realistic goals to aim for rather than focusing on what they can’t do. It’s also important to remember that losing interest and motivation are part of having schizophrenia and not something the person is choosing to do.
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Help Children Learn Effective Verbal And Behavioural Responses
Practical suggestions for helping children to respond to their parent with mental illness:
- Share with your children any of the discoveries or skills you have learned about what works and doesnt work when dealing with your spouse.Example: I know it is upsetting when Daddy talks about the food being poisoned, but arguing with him about it doesnt help.
- Make sure your children understand that even though their parent has a mental illness, it is okay for them to protect themselves from any behaviour that seems scary or dangerous.
- Give specific suggestions for how to protect themselves:
- Make a rule that your children tell you whenever a situation involving your spouse has scared them or made them uncomfortable.
- Teach your children to tell your spouse whenever they are scaring or upsetting them.
- Create an emergency care plan with your child a list of numbers they can call if they dont feel safe, including emergency numbers and people they trust.
Practical suggestions for helping children respond to others
- Involving children in keeping the mental illness a secret can be extremely burdensome to them.
- What you say to others about the mental illness and how you act will probably influence your child more than anything you tell them to say or do.
- Explain to your child that many people dont understand mental illness:
- It may scare them.
Could some be caused by:
Encourage Someone To Get Treatment
Someone with schizophrenia may be unaware they need professional help, not know how to get it, or be physically unable to get themselves to places that offer help.
To find a local facility that offers special care for people with mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.
For people experiencing their first symptoms or episode of a mental health condition, the SAMHSAs Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator can also identify facilities or providers that may be able to help.
Here is the contact information for the SAMHSAs National Mental Health Hotline, a completely free, confidential service that operates 24 hours per day year-round in English and Spanish:
- Dial 800-662-HELP .
- FaceTime them at 800-487-4889.
- Check out their website.
To contact the Schizophrenia & Psychosis Action Alliances hotline, which operates MondayFriday from 9:00 a.m.5:00 p.m. in all time zones, dial 800-493-2094 or email them.
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Use Empathy Not Arguments
Symptoms of schizophrenia like hallucinations or delusions can take some time to stop even when people are receiving treatment and following their treatment plan. As a group, these very distressing symptoms are called psychosis. Many people have a hard time responding to a loved ones hallucinations or delusions. Its best to avoid arguing about these experiences. Remember that delusion are symptoms of schizophreniathey are not thoughts that you can talk someone out of. Telling someone that their experiences arent real or arent true doesnt help when the experiences feel very real to that person! A better approach is to empathize with the feelings that hallucinations or delusions bring upwithout confirming or denying the hallucination or delusion. For example, if a loved one is frustrated or upset when they hear voices, it isnt helpful to say something like, Youre okay! It isnt real. I dont hear anything. Instead, you might say, I can only image how upsetting that voice must be. I can see the voice makes you feel scared. Know that with good treatment and support, symptoms like hallucinations and delusions become much easier for people to manage and lose importance.
The Breaking Point That Turned Into A Blessing
When I got out of jail, the judge said I had to go to a state psychiatric hospital. I was really nervous, but I talked to a psychiatrist there who made me feel comfortable. For the first time, I opened up about what I was experiencingthe voices, the paranoia. She said, You are battling schizophrenia. I didnt even know what that meant.
She suggested that when I got out of the hospital and off the treatments I was taking there, I try a new treatment for schizophrenia.After weighing the risks and benefits, we both agreed the treatment, given through monthly injections, might help control my symptoms.
Meanwhile, I was doing better at the hospital. I made friends, and gained insight into my illness. During the week, there were movies, cooking classes and education sessions about my diseasebasically, activities to help people like me get back into society. I learned about schizophrenia and what some of my triggers were.
All told, I stayed there for three months. It was hard, especially when my birthday passed, but I tried to have a little faith, and when doctors told me they were going to send me home in November 2011, that felt like a big triumph. There was light at the end of the tunnel.
I will never forget what I went through, or what it took for me to get here. I dont take any of it for granted. I consider myself an advocate for people who dont have a voice.
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Talking About Your Diagnosis
People with schizophrenia may feel reluctant to talk about it with people they dont know well. Sharing ones mental health condition may feel risky, particularly if the response of the other person is in question. Those who are managing this disorder may wonder how to tell someone you have schizophrenia. While there is no predetermined way to do this, it can be helpful to gauge their understanding of the condition. Often when people have knowledge about a condition, they are better able to respond to it appropriately and with compassion.
Teach people how to help you when you are experiencing a flare-up with your symptoms. Most people want to help and may simply need to be educated about how to do that. Whom you share your personal information with is entirely your decision. You can share or withhold your medical and mental health information with whomever you would like.
It can also be helpful to enlist the assistance of someone you trust to help you share information about your diagnosis with others. Schizophrenia support groups can be a great way to do this. Meeting up with others who manage a similar condition can help in identifying coping strategies and methods of communicating about it with others.
How To Help Yourself Outside Of The Therapists Office
People with schizophrenia are at increased risk for premature death, and one of the reasons is that they tend to have poor lifestyle habits. They are less likely to exercise and eat healthfully and they are more likely to smoke and abuse substances. Weight gain can also be a side effect of certain medications.
Talk to your doctor about how a healthy diet and exercise routine can improve your overall mood and decrease the possibility of a relapse of symptoms. Your therapist can also help you generate a list of healthy coping strategies which can boost energy level and mood. These might include:
Engaging hobbies and interests
Spending time with friends and family
Attending a support group
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Tips For Living With Someone With Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental disorder that typically first hits adults in their 20s and early 30s. When someone is diagnosed with schizophrenia, they must remain on antipsychotic medications for the rest of their lives to control symptoms. One of the reasons why schizophrenia does not go away is the fact that genetics and physical abnormalities of the brain play key roles in its development.
Before learning how to live with someone with schizophrenia, it helps to understand how this mental illness develops and why people with schizophrenia think and behave the way they do. No one chooses to live with schizophrenia, just like nobody chooses to have personality disorders, PTSD, or major depression. Loving someone with schizophrenia means recognizing they have no control over what they believe, what they say or how they treat you. It is up to caregivers to provide the stability and unconditional love that people with schizophrenia want and need.