Schizophrenia symptoms and how to recognise them

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Unfortunately there isn’t a reliable single test that can diagnose schizophrenia as yet so a diagnosis is usually made by a psychiatrist if the individual concerned displays symptoms of schizophrenia and other possible conditions have been ruled out.

No two people with schizophrenia will display the same symptoms to the same degree; instead there will usually be a combination of positive and negative symptoms which can include hallucinations and delusions, poor social functioning, racing thoughts and disorganised thinking.

Positive symptoms

Positive symptoms can be described as those symptoms which are in addition to normal ways of functioning and behaviour and which people who do not suffer from schizophrenia are unlikely to experience such as hallucinations, illusions and delusions. Hallucinations can take place in any of the senses, for example in the form of sound, sight, touch, taste and smell. A common type of hallucination in schizophrenia is hearing voices that other people cannot hear and these voices are a very real experience. They can be talking to the person with schizophrenia or even tell them to carry out certain orders.

Illusions on the other hand are when certain things are real and do exist but are misinterpreted by the individual and perceived as something different.

Delusions can be described as beliefs which are simply not true and which are not based on any fact or real evidence. For example a common type of delusion in people with schizophrenia is a feeling of being persecuted, in other words paranoid schizophrenia. The individual may falsely believe that another person or persons sometimes close family members are conspiring against them. Another type of delusion often seen in schizophrenia is where the person believes they are extremely important or famous and this is known as delusions of grandeur. They may believe that voices on the radio or people on the television are speaking directly to them giving them personal messages.

Negative symptoms

Negative symptoms can be more difficult to evaluate and treat because they are less obvious than positive symptoms. They can be described as those symptoms that appear to show a loss of normal functioning and behaviour. For example, negative symptoms can include a withdrawal from social contact, showing no emotion, being slower to think and talk, and altered sleeping patterns.

Schizophrenia is more a collection of symptoms and signs so an evaluation of all the symptoms by a psychiatrist is essential for an accurate diagnosis.

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  1. Aylin
    Posted May 10, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I am suffering from schizopenia to work live with other people or even family who is not suffering from schizopenia is difficult can you give more information about this!!!!What can we do?

  2. Javan Mugo
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I am affected by schizophrenia in the past and still taking medication. I feel medication is working but if I miss a night dose, I cant sleep. Will there be time I’ll stop medication? Will I be compeletely cured?

  3. Julianna Baylon Kwon
    Posted May 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I have been diagnosed as a Depresive disorder known as Bipolar disorder. I have found help and sought counseling. I had a negative perception of myself but thorough counseling, rest, and a life style change I found the solutions to understanding my depression and how to let go of guilt.

  4. shelly Kenworthy
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    I suffer from schzophrenia and I can’t seem to get over it! I take Geodon and Seroquil to help me sleep. I take Klonopin for anxiety and I am still having symptoms. My family makes fun of me, my husband and kids dont understand it and neither do I. I feel like committing suicide like the voices say to, but I can’t I am too chicken. I think my husband and kids hate me they just don’t tell me. I am a joke!!!!!

  5. Lozz
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    I dont know if i have it. Some of the signs above are accurate for me.
    I used to hear voices and they told me what to do.
    I got depression liek a few years ago which was when the voices started to happen, i also lost sleep and lost alot of weight. Now i seem to understand how people are more and weirdly tell what theyre thinking :\

  6. Dipti
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I faced a break up 2 years ago ,followed by poor academic performance and a rape..Whenever I meet a counsellor I can put on a facade of being happy…tell her things in a manner where she assumes nothing serious is wrong with me…
    It takes very little for me to cry.. I feel lonely, I suffer from delusions
    I really need help,
    Can you please suggest something

  7. karen
    Posted May 23, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Just gave birth to healthy bouncing baby,we separeted with the father of my child when i was six weeks pregnant.He was never supportive during the pregnancy,even now in any way.Im struggling to concentrate, with my studies, im terrified by lack of concetration regarding my studies,because without me studying and getting a degree, my life will be shattered.when im depressed i eat a lot,as a result i have gained so much weight, i really cant stop eating, my baby is obese because i use eat a lot when i was pregnant.i am forever not happy.
    Please help me.

  8. Gunnar
    Posted May 27, 2009 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Hi, I think I might have a minor case of schizophrania but, I’m not entirely sure. Here are the reasons I think I might have a minor or larger case.
    1. Off and on Insomnia
    2. Auditory hallucinations (2 to 3 times a day)
    3. Constant paranoid thoughts of people planning against me
    4. I am very anti-social
    5. I think to deep and fast about everything
    6. Sometimes I just stop showing all forms of emotion
    If some one could tell me if they think I have it, it would be apreciated.

  9. mandy
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    hi am a worried parent my son has had schizophrania since he was 16 hes now 23 and is at present back in hospital where hes been on and of for a few years.he has been on many diffent medications that have had side affects they have just stated him on klonopin they say it will take 6 weeks untill we see if its worked but i have heared there are bad side affects if this doest help him what next will they do just wont my son back can u advice.

  10. unknown
    Posted June 27, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    I am always in and out of different moods everyday, laughing for no reason, anxious from thinking about the past, and really angry and thoughts of violence and killing. I am really confused about this as its been happening for about 3 years now, it has lost me my apprenticeship and reduced me to an anti social,im not sure whats wrong with me but most of the symptoms on this page match mine.

  11. Sarah
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink


    I just realised I have schizophrenia. I was originally diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, then I read your comments and realised I should tell you that I am writing a book which will hopefully help all of us. In my head it’s a book that will save the world, but that’s quite crazy.

    I have studied lots of philosophy and thought long and hard about the world; but I did very well in school. I recently created an alter-ego for myself, someone who can pretend she is okay. But until today I thought that I had bi-polar disorder.

    I pull apart each and every colour and assign them a meaning. I do the same with the letters of the alphabet, and with numbers. I like 3s and 1s, because I was born on 3/1/83, and thirteen is unlucky, and I lived in a house at 31…

    I am hoping to publish a book about all this – probably next year. It will be a fantasy. I hope you will get to read it one day.

  12. Sarah
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    That was really mean.

  13. Sarah
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, it was my fault. I don’t trust computers. Now I am hallucinating quite a bit. I will see a doctor today I think.

  14. phillip
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    hi i was officially diagnosed with manic depression and schizophrenia when i was 16 years of age although throughout my childhood in elementary i used to have to spend time with the school psychiatrist(not really right, but i do remember him always asking me stuff and letting me draw pictures all day in his office)and as a kid even showed some odd behaviour anyways i often dont know what is real and what isnt anymore even though ive probably had this for a while i realize now i feel nothing anymore and i wonder if i ever did the voices in my head have become alot “quiter” now but there always there anyways i was wondering if anyone can tell me how much longer will this go on. im just tired of it, i know its in my genes i know this because my dad has the same thing but a lot worse. does it get better or worse?

  15. kevin
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    i think i have it but im not sure i can hear voices but they tell me what is going to happen next….

  16. elise
    Posted July 16, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Hey I’m 15 and I think I have paranoid Schizophrenia, I am constantly thinking the people around me are talking about me and discussing me with their mates. I am extremely unsociable with certain people even though I get on quite well with others. I am constantly thinking and acting faster than anyone else and this causes me to slip up in what I say. I also have delusions about being a completely different person to who I am and often tie myself into the story-lines of films or t-v programs I know. I’m not sure what to do and whether this is paranoid schizophrenia or just paranoia. Please comment back offfering some advice on what to do…

  17. Abhilasha Singh
    Posted July 17, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi , I was diagnosed Schizophrenia in the year 2004.Since then I am on medication that is Risperidon & Pemozide.I am also taking medicines like Windep to regulate my sleep & Pronate injection to kill voices that I hear.I just want to ask , will there be a time when my medication will be over.

  18. Innocencia Anderson
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I was diagnised with depression but I am not taking medication for it, I sometimes cry over nothing and I am angered most of the time. I here voices in my head once or twice a week and I am so forgetful lately, does that mean I might be schizophenic?

  19. manuela
    Posted August 8, 2009 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I want to study mental health nurse in September and I work at the moment at Addenbrooke’s hospital. I have previous experiences with people who have schizophrenia and depression. Mostly depression can develop into schizophrenia. When depression is not treated very well it can leads into schizophrenia. Schizphrenia is an illness which can be past on into the next family generation by gens. I personally see schizophrenia like a stroke. When your vens are blocked and the blood can not pass through the vens it means it is possible to suffer in the future of stroke. I believe every illness and conditions is recoverable. it is the way of thinking and that you find people in your life who understand this illness really well. Many people don’t understand it and they create assumptions. It is not right. Everybody has the right to be treated with respect and dignity. It is helpful when you hear voices that you try to understand what they want from you or what they are saying to you. Don’t be afraid of the voice!!!! When you figured out what the voice is trying to say then you might be able to cope with it. The voice might go away or stays with you for a while. When you feel it is overpowering this voice than try not to give in or ignore it. It can be helpful to find a hobby like playing music or doing art. Distractions can be very good. When all is not helping don’t be afraid to seek out for counselling or other help in the church. By the way when you hear voices that does not mean you have schizophrenia it could be also something which is a phenoman between heaven and earth. All psychiatrist and neurologist don’t know the whole process of the brain. When you are christian it can be also advisable to seek out for a priest or chaplaincy they know more about things which could be happening from God. Sometimes they could be messages. The main and the important thing is the understanding of your partner, friends, spouse and love once. These can create a big difference in your life. Nobody has the right to inhumilate and do jokes of you. You are important!!!!!!!!!!!

    Best wishes
    to you all

  20. Jason C Hansen
    Posted August 20, 2009 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    I think I have schizophrenia I hear people taking about me when they couldn’t be and I have supernatural experiences Where something supernatural takes me and shows me things that happen in the future. Somehow I always know about something before it happens like the news on t.v. sometimes or other things. The list goes on, one supernatural experience after another. To this day I think they are real experiences with the supernatural. The evidence is what i see happening after a premonition or something. The list goes on and on to when I could first remember when I was three. Do I have schizophrenia or am I interacting with the supernatural. I was even enlightened. Everything I read about schizophrenia suggest that I have it.

  21. chetna
    Posted August 27, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    hey i m sintu i wanna kw that a schizophernia patient can lead a healthy married life. if so tell me. and what are the possible treatments.

  22. james
    Posted September 2, 2009 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    my wife from China has been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia since the early 90’s. she blames my mom, the president, jim cramer of msnbc and others , and is scared of all live tv and YouTube. She has always refused to allow me to put her on my insurance and will not trust doctors or any new medicines..In june 09 she was baker acted 2 times and has now left me and gone back to china to stay with her family. Imiss her terribly and probably will never see her again, but her family knows her history well and says they need to take care of her,,, sometimes she would think i was after other women, and other times totally happy with our marriage… I urge all husbands in this situation to get help for their wife no matter what

  23. fairy dust
    Posted March 28, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    i have schizoaffective disorder my moods are up and down i hear voices in my head i see things at night i cant tell realality i am gett i believe in angels and finding white feathersing very forgetful ive had varioue diagnosis i dont get on withpeople i think im going mad

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