The most common questions that I receive, come from people who seem to be experiencing health-related anxiety and fear they have schizophrenia. In all likelihood, they have anxiety and not schizophrenia. That may also be the case for you because nothing that you have written would indicate schizophrenia.
The underlying essence of anxiety is misperceiving or not believing in reality. For example, you believed that you were HIV-positive despite test results showing you to be HIV-negative. The negative test result should have ended your anxiety but it didn’t. You believed it despite objective proof to the contrary. Your refusal to see reality, inflamed your anxiety. Simply believing in the truth would have and should have diminished your anxiety.
You are also concerned about hearing voices and it being a symptom of schizophrenia. The voice you heard was internal and not external. Generally speaking, people who hear external voices may be experiencing a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia, whereas people who hear an internal voice are probably not experiencing a psychotic disorder. Hearing an internal voice is quite normal. It is commonly thought to be our consciousness.
People who have anxiety disorders often describe having difficulty “shutting off” their internal voice. Clinically, this is called rumination. Rumination is the experience of thinking about something distressing over and over again. It’s common among people who have depression and anxiety disorders.
Your doctor suggested a mental health screening. That was a very wise suggestion. A mental health professional will meet with you, collect a thorough psychosocial history, determine if a diagnosis is warranted and recommend treatment. If you do have anxiety or depression, they are highly treatable with therapy and medication. Click on the “find help” tab, at the top of this page, to assist you in locating a mental health professional in your community. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle