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What Does Schizophrenia Feel Like

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What Is The Outlook

What Schizophrenia Feels Like
  • In most cases there are recurring episodes of symptoms . Most people in this group live relatively independently with varying amounts of support. The frequency and duration of each relapse can vary. Some people recover completely between relapses. Some people improve between relapses but never quite fully recover. Treatment often prevents relapses, or limits their number and severity.
  • In some cases, there is only one episode of symptoms that lasts a few weeks or so. This is followed by a complete recovery, or substantial improvement without any further relapses. It is difficult to give an exact figure as to how often this occurs. Perhaps 2 in 10 cases or fewer.
  • Up to 2 in 10 people with schizophrenia are not helped much by treatment and need long-term dependent care. For some, this is in secure accommodation.
  • Depression is a common complication of schizophrenia.
  • It is thought that up to a third of people with schizophrenia misuse alcohol and/or illegal drugs. Helping or treating such people can be difficult.
  • About 1 in 10 people with schizophrenia end their own life.

The outlook is thought to be better if:

Newer medicines and better psychological treatments give hope that the outlook is improving.

Negative Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

The negative symptoms of schizophrenia can often appear several years before somebody experiences their first acute schizophrenic episode.

These initial negative symptoms are often referred to as the prodromal period of schizophrenia.

Symptoms during the prodromal period usually appear gradually and slowly get worse.

They include the person becoming more socially withdrawn and increasingly not caring about their appearance and personal hygiene.

It can be difficult to tell whether the symptoms are part of the development of schizophrenia or caused by something else.

Negative symptoms experienced by people living with schizophrenia include:

  • losing interest and motivation in life and activities, including relationships and sex
  • lack of concentration, not wanting to leave the house, and changes in sleeping patterns
  • being less likely to initiate conversations and feeling uncomfortable with people, or feeling there’s nothing to say

The negative symptoms of schizophrenia can often lead to relationship problems with friends and family as they can sometimes be mistaken for deliberate laziness or rudeness.

What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose This Condition

There arent any diagnostic tests for schizophrenia-spectrum conditions. But healthcare providers will likely run tests to rule out other conditions before diagnosing schizophrenia. The most likely types of tests include:

  • Imaging tests. Healthcare providers will often use computerized tomography , magnetic resonance imaging and other imaging tests to rule out problems like stroke, brain injuries, tumors and other changes to your brain structure.
  • Blood, urine and cerebrospinal fluid tests. These tests look for chemical changes in bodily fluids that might explain changes in your behavior. They can rule out heavy metal toxicity or other causes of poisoning, infections and more.
  • Brain activity testing. An electroencephalogram detects and records the electrical activity in your brain. This test can help rule out conditions like epilepsy.

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What Can I Expect If I Have This Condition

Schizophrenia is a condition where the outlook varies greatly from person to person. People who have schizophrenia tend to struggle with work, relationships and self care. However, with treatment, some are able to work, care for themselves and have fulfilling relationships.

This condition also often affects people in cycles. That means many people with this condition go through periods where the condition flares up and their symptoms get much worse, followed by a period where symptoms improve but they still have some ongoing struggles.

Despite how serious this condition is, treatment does make it possible for people with schizophrenia to live with the condition and minimize how it affects their lives.

How long does schizophrenia last?

Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition. While some people will recover from this condition after having only one or two episodes, schizophrenia symptoms can return unpredictably. People with a history of schizophrenia are in remission as long as symptoms dont return.

Whats the outlook for this condition?

Schizophrenia itself isnt a deadly condition. However, its effects on a person can lead to dangerous or harmful behaviors, to both themselves and the people around them.

What Is The Difference Between Schizophrenia And Psychosis

What does psychological pain feel like?

Schizophrenia and psychosis are two strongly connected terms, but they also have significant differences.

  • Psychosis: This is a grouping of symptoms that involve a disconnection from reality and the world around you . Psychosis can happen with other medical conditions and mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder.
  • Schizophrenia: This is a spectrum of conditions that involve psychotic symptoms.

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Caring For Someone With Schizophrenia

Research has shown that involving family members in treatment for people with schizophrenia can help to reduce the likelihood of future episodes.

It helps to learn as much as you can about psychosis and schizophrenia. When youre well informed you have a better handle on what is happening and you can be more confident understanding and making decisions about treatment.

Stories from others caring for people with mental health issues are also a reminder that recovery is possible.

How Common Is This Condition

Here are some statistics about how common schizophrenia is worldwide:

  • New cases: There are about 2.77 million new schizophrenia diagnoses every year worldwide.
  • Average number of worldwide cases: There are about 22.1 million cases globally at any time .
  • Odds of developing it at some point in your lifetime: About 0.85% of the global population will experience schizophrenia at some point in their life.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia usually happens in stages, with different symptoms and behaviors depending on the stage.

  • Onset . This is an early phase that happens before a person develops more severe symptoms. It can include social withdrawal, anxiety, lack of motivation and neglect of personal hygiene.
  • Active. This is when psychotic symptoms take full effect. Another term for this is psychotic break, where a person shows a disconnection from reality. That includes showing at least two of the five main symptoms listed immediately below.
  • Residual. People in this stage still have some schizophrenia signs and symptoms, but theyre not as severe. Odd beliefs, lack of motivation, decreased feelings of enjoyment or pleasure, limited speaking and reduced emotional expression tend to be the most noticeable effects. Many people often improve to the point where they seem mostly or fully recovered. However, this is usually temporary, and symptoms of schizophrenia will return as a person goes back into the active stage of the condition.

What are the early signs of schizophrenia?

The early symptoms of schizophrenia, which happen in the onset stage, usually arent severe enough for a schizophrenia diagnosis but are still a cause for concern. This stage sometimes happens quickly, only taking weeks before moving to the next stage.

The most common symptoms or changes in this stage include:

What are the active stage symptoms?

Are there other possible symptoms?

Lack of insight

Who Does It Affect

What’s it like to live with #schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia typically starts at different ages, depending on sex. It usually starts between ages 15 and 25 for men and between 25 and 35 for women. It also tends to affect men and women in equal numbers.

Schizophrenia in children, especially before age 18, is possible but rare. However, these cases are usually very severe. Earlier onset tends to lead to a more severe, harder-to-treat condition.

About 20% of new schizophrenia cases occur in people over age 45. These cases tend to happen more in women. Delusion symptoms are stronger in these cases, with less-severe negative symptoms and effects on the ability to think and focus.

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What Is The Typical Age Of Onset For Schizophrenia

Men and women are equally likely to get this brain disorder, but guys tend to get it slightly earlier. On average, men are diagnosed in their late teens to early 20s. Women tend to get diagnosed in their late 20s to early 30s. People rarely develop schizophrenia before they’re 12 or after they’re 40.

What’s It Like Living With Schizophrenia

Watch Miles talk about his experience of living with schizophrenia.

Positive and negative symptoms

Professionals sometimes talk about schizophrenia symptoms as being ‘positive’ and ‘negative’. But this doesn’t mean ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

  • Positive symptoms are experiences or behaviours that the condition adds to your life. Like hearing or seeing things that others don’t, or having a belief that something is real or true when it isn’t.
  • Negative symptoms are experiences or behaviours that the condition takes away from your life. Like finding things less interesting or enjoyable, moving your body less, or having less motivation.

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What Schizophrenia May Feel Like

It’s important to remember that each person may experience schizophrenia symptoms in a different way. For example, some people feel:

  • Confused about what is real

  • Less able to share or show feelings

  • Unable to concentrate or process information clearly

See below for list of common schizophrenia symptoms

What Cognitive Schizophrenia Symptoms Are Like

Can I Still Live a Normal Life If I have Schizophrenia?

Someone with these symptoms may have trouble concentrating, focusing, taking in new information, and using that information. Their brain processes information more slowly, their memory declines, and they often have trouble reading and understanding social cues, Weinstein says. Though these symptoms can be made even worse by the brain âtrafficâ from positive symptoms, cognitive decline is a symptom all on its own, Margolis says.

âEven getting dressed was a very complicated process for me,â Collins says. âItâs like a traffic jam of information going in and out of your brain, so itâs like everything is always new, you donât remember the process.â

Dickson describes feeling like his brain was under constant assault. âMy analogy is if youâre playing a game of tackle football with some friends and the ball is coming to you, can you really do algebra in your head at that moment? I was a fairly smart guy, but when youâre sick with what I had, you really canât do a lot of deep intellectual thinking.â

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Help For Family & Friends

The family and friends of someone with schizophrenia need care and support too its okay for family and friends to prioritise their own mental and physical health while they support someone.

There are many other people out there who share similar experiences, and many services designed to help carers of people with mental health issues. Check out our Guide for Families and Friends for more info.

Effective medical, community, and psychological treatment is available and a person who experiences schizophrenia can live a fulfilling life.

To connect with others who get it, visit our online Forums. Theyre safe, anonymous and available 24/7.

How Does Schizophrenia Affect Work And Employment

Most people with schizophrenia are unable to work full-time, but it does help to engage in some work and stay relatively busy. Research shows that people with schizophrenia who participate in work activities have better functioning compared to those who dont.

For Rachel, schizophrenia affects her work life in several ways, the main one being that shes unable to work a typical 9-5, 40-hour per week job.

I can do it for about two weeks then my brain starts to fall apart, she says. I also need to change what I am doing every four hours. If not, my thoughts start to run together.

Another is I am bad at counting. Like, really bad. My brain starts twisting all the numbers around. What is wild is that I usually cannot tell I think my math is 100% correct. Due to this I dont work with money or credit cards at any job. I also have coworkers check my time sheets.

2001 study , researchers observed the daily functioning of people with schizophrenia and identified when delusions were most likely.

A total of 48 participants with schizophrenia rated the intensity of their symptoms, thoughts, and mood states during various moments in their lives.

On average, most participants experienced delusions less than one-third of the time. Delusional moments tended to occur alongside negative emotions rather than positive emotions. Being around family or acquaintances reduced the risk of having a subsequent delusion, while withdrawal from such activities increased the chances.

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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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Lack Of Emotional Expressions

What it’s like to have schizophrenia

A characteristic symptom of schizophrenia is a lack of emotional expression. People with this condition may show little or no reactions to good or bad news.

They also begin to show fewer facial expressions and gestures when they talk. Their voice may become flat when they speak.

Interestingly, suggests that while they appear to have a wooden expression, what they express outward may not be the same as what they feel inside.

Sometimes, they can have unexplained and seemingly inappropriate reactions to things, like overwhelming anger or inappropriate laughter.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia And How Is It Diagnosed

How is schizophrenia diagnosed?

Only a psychiatrist can diagnose you with schizophrenia after a full psychiatric assessment. You may have to see the psychiatrist a few times before they diagnose you. This is because they need to see how often you are experiencing symptoms.

There are currently no blood tests or scans that can prove if you have schizophrenia. So, psychiatrists use manuals to diagnose schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

The 2 main manuals used by medical professionals are the:

  • International Classification of Diseases which is produced by the World Health Organisation , or
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual which is produced by the American Psychiatric Association .

NHS doctors use the ICD-10.

The manuals explain which symptoms should be present, and for how long for you to receive a diagnosis. For example, according to the NHS you need to be hearing voices for at least 1 month before you can be diagnosed. Mental health professionals may say you have psychosis before they diagnose you with schizophrenia.

What is the future of diagnosis in schizophrenia?There are many research studies being conducted across the world on how to better diagnose schizophrenia. For example, a recent study found through looking at images of the brain, there may be different sub-types of schizophrenia.

What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

The symptoms of schizophrenia are commonly described as positive symptoms or negative symptoms. This doesnt mean that they are good or bad.

What Does It Feel Like To Have Schizophrenia Outside And Inside The Chronic Brain Disorder

I met my new neighbor for the first time a week after she’d moved in. Jill was a petite brunette who laughed easily and told me shed majored in art history. Luckily, she’d found a job in publishing. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt, she looked exactly like what she was: a recent college grad trying her luck in the city. Our schedules didnt sync so about six months went by before I saw her again. This time, I mainly noticed conservative clothes and a serious expression: a professional woman had been born. We ran into one another at random times. Time passed. Climbing the stairs, I saw her standing motionless outside her door, the keys dangling from her hand. I said hello and she turned and wordlessly stared at me. I asked if she was OK. She mumbled and then shifted her glance as if trying to hear a distant sound. I asked again, and this time she said nothing. She didnt appear to be upset or in pain or drunk or in danger. I went inside my apartment. After half an hour, I heard her door open and shut.

Two months later, I saw Jills mother the family resemblance was obvious standing in the hall. In a jumbled rush, the distraught woman confided in me: Jill had just been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Before I could speak, Jill opened her door. She looked even more remote, more lost inside her own head. Catching her mothers eye, I felt miserable as well.

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What Positive Schizophrenia Symptoms Are Like

These simply mean experiences that someone with schizophrenia has, such as hallucinations, delusions, unusual physical movements, and illogical thoughts. âThese are as real to the person with schizophrenia as it would be if someone came in the room and started talking to you,â Weinstein says.

Collins describes her hallucinations before she started treatment. âThe room would turn dark and people would distort and start looking demonic,â she recalls. âIf I looked in the mirror, my face would look demonic — I thought I was the ugliest person in the world.â Her vision and hearing started to change, making it extremely hard to make sense of the world. âIt was like an Alice in Wonderland,â Collins says. âEverything was getting bigger, smaller, louder, quieter my ability to process information coming in through my senses started breaking down.â

Dickson says he never saw any visions but he sensed so much âstaticâ in his brain that he couldnât focus or concentrate. âItâs like watching a movie where itâs a war zone, and bombs are going off, and itâs utter chaos.â

Both Collins and Dickson describe living with constant noise in their head. âI heard a lot of clicks and bangs. I took it for granted that this was the world was like, and everyone else knew how to function in it, but I couldnât,â Collins says. She also recalls seeing a âshadow man,â a common hallucination.

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