Think I’m Developing Schizophrenia

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Hi, I’m a sophomore in college right now and I’m becoming more aware that I might have a mental illness. I do not know which one I have, however. When I was younger, I questioned if somebody was controlling me, if there was someone that’s making me do the things I did. There was a voice inside my head arguing against me. I thought it was just plain puberty, but that is probably not the case. As I grew older, I started to have more disturbing thoughts inside my head as well, like murder and beheading people. I thought it was just puberty striking here again. In addition, I frantically worry about my health. I was scared that my mental cognitive ability would decline and that I would get AIDS virus. I was frantic and checked to see if I would have any of the symptoms. I also thought about people plotting against me, and if my food contained poison.

Fast forward a couple of years, and now the same symptoms are reoccurring. Recently, I thought I had a brain clog because I had a headache and when I searched on google, I was scared that I might have a fatal disease. Furthermore, I see myself questioning reality and more gruesome thoughts are popping inside my head. I am scared that I will develop schizophrenia, and am again believing that my reality might not be real. I thought what if people are aliens in disguise. I am also waiting for my psychosis, as I feel it would happen anytime, but it has not happened yet. I do suffer a bit from anxiety (social phobia) and am really stressed from school. In addition, I thought about having an imaginary friend. The only odd thing is that when I read some of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia, I find it preposterous to believe in. Thank you for allowing me to express myself, and any assistance that you can provide me I will truly greatly appreciate it.

A. In order to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, at least two of the following must be present: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior or negative symptoms. The symptoms have to significantly disrupted a major area of one’s life, such as work, interpersonal relations or self-care for at least six months. Without meeting those specific requirements, schizophrenia would not be diagnosed.

Two personality disorders exist that are similar to but not quite as severe as schizophrenia. These include schizoid and schizotypal personality disorder. Schizoid personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and an inability to express emotions within these relationships. These individuals tend to be socially isolated and considered “loners.” An individual would only receive a diagnosis of schizoid personality disorder if they met at least four of seven diagnostic criteria. Anything short of that, would not be considered schizoid personality disorder.

Individuals with schizotypal personality disorder also have difficulties with social relationships and expressing their emotions within those relationships. In addition, these individuals have ideas of reference and other odd beliefs that could be considered delusional or paranoid. For instance, they may feel as though they have magical powers that allow them to control the thought processes of others. Individuals with schizotypal personality disorder also tend to be suspicious and paranoid.

A diagnosis of schizotypal personality disorder requires that an individual demonstrate a pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits as indicated by at least five of the following symptoms: ideas of reference, odd beliefs or magical thinking, unusual perceptual experiences, odd thinking and speech, suspiciousness or paranoid ideation, inappropriate or constricted affect, odd or eccentric behavior, lack of friends and excessive social anxiety. Without possessing at least five of the aforementioned symptoms, a diagnosis of schizotypal personality disorder would not be warranted.

You have described several issues that are causing you a great deal of distress, particularly anxiety. Anxiety is quite distressing and degrades the quality of your life. Given your concerns, it would be advantageous for you to be evaluated by a mental health professional. An evaluation can determine if a mental health disorder is present. It would also be helpful in determining what type of intervention may be necessary.

Counseling could also beneficial. Being able to converse with a therapist could help you to stay grounded in reality and reduce or possibly eliminate your anxiety. Medication should also be a consideration. Many people find that it significantly reduces their anxiety. I wish you the best of luck. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Apr 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Think I’m Developing Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/04/05/think-im-developing-schizophrenia/

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