Hi, I have an uncle with schizophrenia and it has always been in the back of my mind. About 3 months ago I began to have really bad anxiety and have been obsessively thinking about schizophrenia. I also noticed a change in my thinking patterns as my brain is never calm, I’m always imagining conversations with friends and family in my head or singing a song and obsessing over schizophrenia to the point I was making myself have paranoid schizophrenic thoughts, which could have possibly been my real thoughts. Today I went to the bathroom and it looked like the walls were moving and I had this problem last week in my lecture where it looked like the projector was moving but it wasn’t and I’m not sure if this is just an illusion, schizophrenia, or my anxiety. My doctor gave me Lexapro for anxiety last week so I’m not sure if this is causing any perceptual problems as well. My anxiety is mostly tied to my fear of schizophrenia.
A. You mentioned having a doctor but what about a therapist? Therapy is the ideal treatment for your symptoms which may be indicative of an anxiety disorder. I can’t make that determination over the internet, but an in-person therapist will be able to provide a diagnosis.
You mentioned taking medication. It might be affecting your perception and perhaps even your thinking. I’m wondering if you made your doctor aware of this problem. If not, you should. He might want to adjust your medication accordingly.
You might benefit from learning about schizophrenia. Having a relative with schizophrenia only slightly increases the possibility that other family members would develop it. The operative word being slightly.
Having a family member with schizophrenia in no way means that you will develop it. Most people who have a relative with schizophrenia don’t develop the disorder. Environmental triggers often play a major role. Environmental triggers often include severe trauma or drug abuse. Even in cases when an individual has both a genetic propensity and strong environmental triggers, the likelihood of developing schizophrenia is still very low. It is a relatively rare disorder.
It’s also worth noting that people with anxiety disorders often fear schizophrenia. In fact, it is one of the most common inquiries that I receive in this forum. It may be because people with anxiety disorders often have a catastrophic style of thinking. Their minds are often preoccupied with worst-case scenarios. In the minds of some people, schizophrenia is the worst-case scenario and thus it becomes their biggest fear.
You would greatly benefit from counseling. Counseling will teach you how to reduce your anxiety. Without treatment, anxiety tends to worsen. It can be a major hindrance in your life. The good news is that with treatment it can be effectively managed and perhaps even removed from your life entirely. I hope you will give it a try. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle