In general, when asked what they believe schizophrenia symptoms are, most people would think of a mental patient with split personalities, or someone who believes he is Napoleon Bonaparte.
These do in fact represent some of the symptoms that schizophrenia sufferers experience, although a patient who switches from one personality to another actually occurs in very rare cases. As for someone believing he is the former emperor of France, this is known in schizophrenia circles as “delusions of grandeur”.
Just what then are the more common and medically observed schizophrenia symptoms that a patient might have?
1. Hallucinations and illusions
Hallucinations occur when a sufferer’s ability to perceive what is real is affected. He or she might see, hear, feel or smell something that is not there. Most commonly, they would hear voices in their heads, which could be talking to them, warning them of some imminent danger, or just conversing with one another in their minds.
As for illusions, a sufferer may experience a normal stimulus or will misinterpret what it represents. For example, the wind might sound like a voice to a schizophrenic.
These symptoms involve a false understanding of some aspect of the patient’s life. Commonly, he or she might believe that people are conspiring against them, threatening to harm them. Or they might believe that they are someone important or famous.
The sufferer totally and wholeheartedly believes these delusions, and will be obsessed with them. For example, while walking down the street, he or she will believe that everyone is watching them, that the stranger making a phone call is reporting on their movements, and that the police siren is a sign that they are about to be confronted.
3. Disordered thinking
Schizophrenics may also might difficulty thinking or organizing their thoughts. Their conversations and sentences may be disjointed, may not have any logical flow or reasoning, or they might just ramble on regardless of what others are saying or doing. Often times, they cannot follow instructions or appear to have difficulty accomplishing simple tasks.
4. Inappropriate responses
Schizophrenia patients may also have difficulty reacting appropriately to situations. For example they might laugh out loud at a funeral.
5. Lack of expression
Sufferers are known to have difficulty expressing themselves emotionally. Extreme apathy (or lack of emotional interest), speaking in a monotonous voice or not speaking at all, and lack of facial expression and a normal range of body language – these are all common schizophrenia symptoms.
Regardless of the schizophrenia symptoms a sufferer may have, it is critically important to consult a doctor and seek treatment early. If detected early, not only would the patient recover earlier but it has been shown that treatment initiated during his or her first episode will result in a lower number of hospital visits in the first 5 years.
Family members and friends may not understand or even be frightened by schizophrenia symptoms, but must remain supportive of the patient. Although schizophrenia cannot be cured totally, this support with correct treatment will ensure the patient can start the process of recovery and be on the road to a fairly normal life.