The fact the you have many fears and insecurities, especially about developing schizophrenia, may indicate a potential anxiety disorder. It’s not uncommon for highly anxious people with health phobias to be particularly concerned about the development of schizophrenia. They tend to see schizophrenia as being the most severe of all mental health disorders and thus it frightens them the most.
There is no official “test” to determine if one has schizophrenia. Typically, a mental health professional will review your symptoms, gather an extensive psychosocial history and make a determination about whether or not you meet the criteria for a particular disorder. The symptoms that you provided to your psychiatrist were likely checked against the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), the accepted classification system for mental health disorders. It is the manual used by mental health professionals to diagnose disorders.
There are very specific symptoms that must be present in order to receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia. These include: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior and negative symptoms (i.e. flat affect). If an individual does not have at least two of those symptoms, for a significant portion of at least one month, then they would not receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
If it is realistic to believe that you may have schizophrenia, then it would be advantageous to receive a second opinion.
People with anxiety disorders are stressed and worried about many things. That might be why you are frightened of taking medication. You may have focused too much of your attention on the potential negative aspects of taking medication. Many people with mental health disorders are greatly helped by medicine. Medications can be especially effective when treating anxiety disorders.
My recommendation is to try the medication your psychiatrist has prescribed and keep careful track of how it makes you feel. Your doctor will likely start you on a low dose of the medication. Changes may be made depending upon how you react to the medication and how it affects your symptoms.
It’s important to note that when beginning a new medication, you may experience negative side effects but in most cases they quickly subside.
Anxiety significantly reduces the quality of one’s life. You may be greatly helped by taking medication. Therapy could also be highly beneficial. I hope this eases some of your fears. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle