7 Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia

Christina Bruni | March 13, 2015

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The following early warning signs may warrant getting a consultation from a medical professional. Any one of these signs on their own might not indicate schizophrenia. Yet you want to have peace of mind if you or a loved one experiences a build-up of these signs.

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Physical symptoms

A blank, vacant facial expression called ‘blunt affect’ can be a negative symptom meaning it takes away from normal experience. A person might also have overly acute senses: lights are too bright, sounds are too loud. Sleep disturbances like insomnia or excessive sleeping are a sign too.

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Anhedonia

Anhedonia is when a person is unable to experience joy or pleasure from activities. They might feel detached from their own body (depersonalization). They may also be hypersensitive to criticism, insults, or hurt feelings might occur. Another sign is having no desire: seeking nothing, wanting nothing.

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Mood

A person might be overcome with sudden irritability, anger, hostility, suspicion, or resentment. They might have low motivation, energy, and little or no enthusiasm. Suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation is possible.

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Behavior changes

Here a person might drop out of activities and undergo increased withdrawal, spending most of their days alone. Functional impairments could be observed in interpersonal relationships, work, education, or self-care. Negative changes in hygiene, clothing, or appearance are included here. Drug or alcohol abuse might be a sign of self-medicating an illness.

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Hallucinations

Upwards of 70 percent of individuals with schizophrenia hear voices. Others have visual hallucinations. Command voices tell a person to do certain things, often to harm themselves or others. Auditory hallucinations can be either inside a person’s head or externally. The voice can come from an actual person who isn’t speaking or from no apparent source.

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Cognitive problems

Ruminating thoughts that go on and on in your head without going anywhere can be had. A person might make up new words (neologisms) or become incoherent and string unrelated words together (word salad).  A lack of insight (anosognosia) happens when the person is unaware that they are getting sick. Racing thoughts are also common.

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Delusions

Delusions are false, fixed beliefs that are persecutory in nature. These take the form of thinking that someone is controlling you - often with an electronic implant.  Thinking your thoughts are being broadcast over the TV or radio oro thinking that people can read your mind are some examples. Delusions of grandeur often involve thinking you are a famous person or have super powers.

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The takeway

Different illnesses have symptoms that mirror schizophrenia symptoms. If you or your loved one has any of these warning signs, it makes sense to get a consultation. If it turns out not to be schizophrenia, the root might be another illness. Either way, it will give you peace of mind to get this checked out. The earlier schizophrenia, the earlier any illness, is treated, the better the outcome.