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5 Schizophrenia Symptoms You Didn't Know About

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Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder (a disorder characterized by symptoms of schizophrenia and either bipolar disorder or depression) are complex disorders that have often been popularized in the media. Schizophrenia is frequently stereotyped as experiencing hallucinations and/or delusions, and other symptoms of the disorder are rarely touched upon.

To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, one must exhibit two of the main core symptoms, but one of the symptoms must be hallucinating, experiencing delusions or disorganized speech. The second symptom must also be gross disorganization or diminished emotional expression. While these are the hallmark symptoms of schizophrenia, and they are used during the diagnosis period, there are various other symptoms that aren’t regularly discussed. The following are symptoms that I have experienced as someone with schizoaffective disorder (depressive type), and they are common symptoms of both schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

1. Social isolation.

Social isolation occurs when an individual has very few or no social connections. Being unable to reach out for help from others or maintain relationships are hallmarks of social isolation, as is an inability to be amongst others while in public. In my experience, I find that when I am struggling, I am unable to reach out to others in my life when I need help, and I am unable to maintain relationships. I also tend to have an inability to leave my house, as my social anxiety becomes higher during certain periods.

2. Belief that an ordinary event has special and personal meaning.

This symptom is one that varies greatly from person to person. For example, an individual presenting with this symptom might believe that they are receiving messages through the television or radio. In my experience, I have bouts where I see numbers repeating and believe that when I see certain numbers, something bad is going to happen to me. I often believe that numbers hold special meanings and when they show up in my life, they are telling me something. This becomes extremely stressful, and I frequently struggle with paranoia.

3. Feeling detached from self.

This is another symptom that is difficult to deal with and is often invisible. Depersonalization occurs when someone doesn’t feel connected to their body or their thoughts, and they feel as though they don’t have control over them. In my experience, I often feel as though I am not in my body and I struggle with feeling connected to myself, especially when I see reflections or pictures of myself. This symptom causes me to struggle with understanding my identity as well.

4. Fatigue.

Fatigue is a hallmark of many disorders, and it refers to experiencing exhaustion or weariness. In my experience, I have
found that I need more rest than most people due to my fatigue, and needing extra sleep has been a demanding thing for me to accept. In fact, I am still accepting it. In our world, needing more rest is often seen as laziness, but it is important to understand that needing more rest is not wrong. We all differ in how much rest and sleep we require, and if you or a loved one experience fatigue, the best thing you can do is try to be understanding and kind.

5. Memory loss.

Memory loss is probably one of the scarier symptoms that I experience with schizoaffective disorder, and it is a common symptom of schizophrenia. Memory loss can be long-term and/or short-term. I have found that medication and therapy have helped me with my memory loss, but it is an ongoing process.

Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, although rare, are serious mental illnesses that present with a myriad of symptoms. The symptoms I have discussed in this article are some of the symptoms that I experience the most with my diagnosis, but there are many more, which makes each person’s experience one of a kind. My hope is that by discussing the various symptoms of these illnesses we can debunk the stereotypes that are present in our society. Listen to someone’s story first before you assume. This is an incredibly important practice.

Photo by Loli Mass on Unsplash

Originally published: September 10, 2021
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