Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects the way a person behaves, thinks, and sees the world. People with schizophrenia often have an altered perception of reality. They may see or hear things that don’t exist, speak in strange or confusing ways, believe that others are trying to harm them, or feel like they’re being constantly watched. This can make it difficult to negotiate the activities of daily life, and people with schizophrenia may withdraw from the outside world or act out in confusion and fear.
The most common early warning signs of schizophrenia include:
- Social withdrawal
- Hostility or suspiciousness
- Deterioration of personal hygiene
- Flat, expressionless gaze
- Inability to cry or express joy
- Inappropriate laughter or crying
- Oversleeping or insomnia
- Odd or irrational statements
- Forgetful; unable to concentrate
- Extreme reaction to criticism
- Strange use of words or way of speaking
Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
A delusion is a firmly-held idea that a person has despite clear and obvious evidence that it isn’t true. Delusions are extremely common in schizophrenia, occurring in more than 90% of those who have the disorder. Often, these delusions involve illogical or bizarre ideas or fantasies. Common schizophrenic delusions include:
- Delusions of persecution – Belief that others, often a vague “they,” are out to get him or her. These persecutory delusions often involve bizarre ideas and plots (e.g. “Martians are trying to poison me with radioactive particles delivered through my tap water”).
- Delusions of reference – A neutral environmental event is believed to have a special and personal meaning. For example, a person with schizophrenia might believe a billboard or a person on TV is sending a message meant specifically for them.
- Delusions of grandeur – Belief that one is a famous or important figure, such as Jesus Christ or Napolean. Alternately, delusions of grandeur may involve the belief that one has unusual powers that no one else has (e.g. the ability to fly).
- Delusions of control – Belief that one’s thoughts or actions are being controlled by outside, alien forces. Common delusions of control include thought broadcasting (“My private thoughts are being transmitted to others”), thought insertion (“Someone is planting thoughts in my head”), and thought withdrawal (“The CIA is robbing me of my thoughts”).
Hallucinations are sounds or other sensations experienced as real when they exist only in the person’s mind.
Fragmented thinking is characteristic of schizophrenia. Externally, it can be observed in the way a person speaks.
Schizophrenia disrupts goal-directed activity, causing impairments in a person’s ability to take care of him or herself, work, and interact with others.
- Lack of emotional expression – Inexpressive face, including a flat voice, lack of eye contact, and blank or restricted facial expressions.
- Lack of interest or enthusiasm – Problems with motivation; lack of self-care.
- Seeming lack of interest in the world – Apparent unawareness of the environment; social withdrawal.
- Speech difficulties and abnormalities – Inability to carry a conversation; short and sometimes disconnected replies to questions; speaking in monotone.
Types of Schizophrenia
- Paranoid schizophrenia — a person feels extremely suspicious, persecuted, or grandiose, or experiences a combination of these emotions.
- Disorganized schizophrenia — a person is often incoherent in speech and thought, but may not have delusions.
- Catatonic schizophrenia — a person is withdrawn, mute, and negative and often assumes very unusual body positions.
- Residual schizophrenia — a person is no longer experiencing delusions or hallucinations, but has no motivation or interest in life.
- Schizoaffective disorder–a person has symptoms of both schizophrenia and a major mood disorder such as depression.
Keeping up with medicines & through therapy, people can develop social and work skills to recover their lives and relationships. If you or someone you love has schizophrenia, please contact Nishan Rehab to makes all the difference.
Written By: Maryam Malik
Nishan Rehab Islamabad