Schizophrenia is one of the most challenging mental disorders that makes it difficult for a person to understand what is real and what is not. They may not be able to think clearly, relate to others, manage emotions, or perform normal daily functions. The most common type of this disorder is known as paranoid schizophrenia. With this mental illness, these individuals may see or hear things that are not really happening, or they may complain of being constantly observed.
Psychologists have different therapeutic ways to treat schizophrenia, including psychotherapy, psychosocial therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and social skills training.
By understanding the symptoms of schizophrenia, loved ones can prevent people from hurting themselves, including drug abuse, alcohol abuse, suicide, and other problems caused by hallucinations. Here are 12 symptoms to watch out for, according to psychologists.
Positive versus negative symptom classifications
Psychologists classify symptoms into positive and negative categories.
Positive symptoms are those that are not seen in a healthy mind and can lose contact with reality.
On the other hand, negative symptoms occur when the disease disrupts normal behavior or emotions. These can be more difficult to notice because they appear as depression or even attention deficit disorders.
1. Hallucinations – Positive symptom
Have you noticed that the person suffers from hallucinations? This means that they are seeing or hearing events, people or things that are not really real. For the person with schizophrenia, the hallucinations appear to be real and they don’t know the difference. They can hear voices or see people who don’t exist.
2. Delusions – Positive symptom
Separated from hallucinations, an illusion is a belief that is not real. Schizophrenic patients often believe they are being watched, harassed, harmed, or followed. They may believe delusions of greatness, such as being a god or superhero with exceptional abilities. They may also believe that they can see the future or that someone is in love with them when they have never met the person before.
3. Discourse or disorganized thought: positive symptom
One of the things that makes this disease difficult is that it can be difficult to communicate with someone with schizophrenia. Speech may be affected or significantly unrelated to the topic you want to talk about. Psychologists often call this word salad because schizophrenics put sentences together with random words that often make no sense.
4. Abnormal or disorganized motor behavior: positive symptom
With this mental illness, the sick can be unpredictable according to psychologists. They can foolishly act like a child or get agitated about nothing. The behavior is not always focused or easy to detect, especially if they keep quiet. However, it is difficult for victims to perform routine tasks while in a state of disorganized motor behavior. You may see resistance to directions, lack of response, inappropriate or strange posture, excessive movement, or erratic behavior.
5. Lack of personal hygiene and conscience – Negative symptom
In many cases, patients are not cared for as they normally would be when they do not experience an episode. Due to trouble concentrating and hallucinations, many people with this disorder are unable to bathe because they are caught in a fantasy state. However, in younger patients, it may not be as noticeable as a symptom since it could simply be growth pains or hormones that cause problems, but when combined with symptoms, it can be disastrous for the mental well-being of a schizophrenic.
6. Insomnia – Negative symptom
Sometimes it is difficult for schizophrenics to rest one night. They often have hallucinations that make it seem dangerous to go to sleep, as in the case of someone watching or following them. They may not be able to rest for days without medication. Schizophrenics can have certain triggers and take action while in an insomniac state as well. One of the most common symptoms is moving furniture during paranoid and disorganized moments.
7. Catatonia or movement disorders: negative symptom
In other cases, schizophrenics can enter a state of catatonia, which is that they stop moving completely. They may not speak for days and appear trapped in a trance. In other cases, they cannot stop moving when they are upset and cannot control themselves.
In other cases, psychologists call this flat effect, in which the person’s face does not move when speaking, or you can use a monotonous voice when speaking. These are negative symptoms that can be difficult to recognize, especially if they can speak. In younger patients, it may appear that they are simply depressed. However, they may not be able to participate in normal activities or talk to their friends as they normally did in the past.
8. Social withdrawal – Negative symptom
In the early stages of this mental illness, schizophrenics generally stop wanting to hang out as always with their friends and family. They may experience depression, lack of motivation, and irritability due to mood swings and hallucinations. In many cases, patients do not understand what is happening around them and cannot decipher the difference between reality, which means that they cannot socialize in the same way as others.
However, with social skills training, patients can manage their delusions and learn skills to understand triggers. They can learn to recognize their hallucinations and develop ways to overcome these behaviors to function normally.
9. Depression and mood swings – Negative symptom
People with this disorder often have feelings of irritability, restlessness, hopelessness, fatigue, and lack of direction. They may feel confused after an episode or after taking certain actions during a hallucination, and these thoughts can cause considerable pain. Psychologists often noted suicidal attempts with schizophrenic patients after they emerged from a state of psychosis.
Many schizophrenics experience a lack of pleasure in everyday life that makes them look for an escape. If you are predisposed to this mental disorder due to genetics, it may be more difficult for the patient to overcome the challenges. As symptoms worsen, they are likely to withdraw from everyday activities with friends and family. It may seem like they are not willing to help themselves because they don’t think they have a problem.
10. Decreased educational performance – Negative symptom
Once schizophrenics cannot focus, one of the first signs is that they cannot sit still or absorb new information at school. As attention problems become more serious, younger patients, such as teens, may not be able to go to school. They may skip classes or stop going to school altogether. If students participate in social or sports activities, they can withdraw as they lose more cognitive functions and further delve into the disease.
11. Lack of self-awareness – Negative symptom
Many victims don’t realize they have a problem until they talk to a doctor. They may be able to recognize signs and symptoms later, but at first the hallucinations and delusions may seem so real that they don’t feel like there’s a problem. They may refuse to take medications or flee for fear that the medications are truly poisonous. When this occurs, it can be difficult to treat this disorder right away.
Patients will likely have to undergo psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to recognize signs and learn skills to avoid falling into hallucinations. However, if they have a concentration problem or lack of memory skills, then therapy becomes more difficult.
12. Slower processing speed – Positive symptom
Cognitive symptoms are detected when psychologists perform specific tests. Slower processing speed is one of those symptoms that needs to be diagnosed. This makes it difficult to lead a normal life and keep a job, which can cause a lot of emotional stress for the patient. Many families do not realize that a child or adolescent is suffering because the patient is also unsure of what is happening. This is why psychologists have the best possible method of discovering problems with processing speed and development.
Other signs and symptoms to watch out for
- In some cases, schizophrenics are deliberately injured and can self-harm.
- They can talk about suicide or even kill someone else.
- Patients may not know their own names when they are in a specific mental state. They may not even know what day or time it is.
- They can talk irrationally and not make much sense in explaining how they feel or why they are acting in a certain way.
Final thoughts: how to help someone with schizophrenia
This is not a condition for self-diagnosis or taking lightly. In fact, a mental health professional performs a variety of tests to rule out other conditions before making this diagnosis. They will also recommend counseling and other therapies to help ease the severity of symptoms.
If you or someone you care about is diagnosed with schizophrenia, then there are a few things you can do:
- Try a psychoeducation or family counseling program. You can learn more about the condition and how to deal with the problems associated with the disease.
- Remind them that they have a role as a family member or friend and that they have many strengths. They may need a person simply to listen and understand how they feel without judging.
- Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms so you can use techniques to get victims out of hallucinations and other damaging episodes.
Most importantly, whether the patient is in the early or adult stages of this disorder, they should always have access to a mental health professional who can help them with a plan or routine to follow so that they are less likely to fall into psychosis. or catatonic. state.