Symptoms of schizophrenia can be difficult to diagnose. Here are some guidelines to follow:
The symptoms that can be used to diagnose schizophrenia were first described to me by Dr. Hildalgo Mackliff, an Ecuadorian psychiatrist and researcher whom we contacted early in Marco’s illness. He was the Director of the Schizophrenia Ward at Luis Vernaza Hospital for 30 years. During his directorship he self-funded extensive scientific research into what causes schizophrenia and what can improve the symptoms.
Symptoms Needed to Diagnose Schizophrenia:
At the beginning of the disease, there is isolation, loss of student activity, deterioration of personal hygiene, and strange ideas that manifest in the person. In the middle of the process, there manifests strange delusional ideas, ideas of greatness, religious ideas without content of persecution, persecutory ideas, and auditory hallucinations of more than two words not related to depression, loss of thought association and poverty of content, magic thoughts, clairvoyance, telepathy, inappropriate emotions, and disorganized behavior. If a patient has any of these symptoms during the stages of the disease, it is schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia affects thinking, feeling, movement, and behavior, activities that are all regulated by the brain, an organ that orchestrates many thousands of activities at once. Symptoms can be divided into three categories: positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms.
Positive symptoms are the presence of sensations, beliefs, and behaviors that would not normally occur. These are the symptoms that are very noticeable to other people and first alert their loved ones that there is something abnormal going on.
Negative symptoms are the lack of important abilities. Some of these include:
- the inability to enjoy activities as much
- low energy
- a blank, blunted facial expression
- having less lively physical movement
- low motivation
- difficulty initiating activities
- inability to make or keep friends or not caring to have friends.
It was the negative symptoms that I saw mostly in my son once he started taking antipsychotics and which I believe drove him to take his life. Before schizophrenia, he was highly motivated, passionate, athletic, and had loving relationships with his girlfriend, family and friends.
Cognitive symptoms refer to difficulties with concentration and memory.
- disorganized thinking
- slow thinking
- difficulty understanding
- poor concentration
- poor memory
- difficulty expressing thoughts
- difficulty integrating thoughts, feelings, and behavior
When thinking, feeling, behavior, or movement is affected by this illness, it’s hard not to feel confused and disturbed. Delusions and hallucinations can seem very real. It is no wonder that people with schizophrenia believe so strongly in them.
- You do not feel like doing anything.
- Your family says you do not look good.
- It’s so hard to look at people – make eye contact.
- You feel tired all the time.
- It’s hard to keep a conversation going.
- Disorganization of thoughts and life
- Concentration problems
- Hard to concentrate on homework
- You get fat.
Hearing the symptoms described by young people with the disease helped me to understand what my son was experiencing. Go to www.suicideprevention-schizophrenia.com to find out more.