There are a lot of myths about schizophrenia, and a lot of that has to do with how it is portrayed in works of fiction, such as TV and movies. In many cases some of the less common symptoms are exaggerated, while the more common symptoms are ignored entirely. The truth is that schizophrenia can be characterized by symptoms such as delusions (believing things that are not true) as it is by having hallucinations.
Let’s take a look at some of the major schizophrenia symptoms to dispel the confusion:
1. Intense agitation
People who suffer from schizophrenia may deal with increased instances of agitation. This could be in public settings, or at home in private. In many cases the agitation isn’t triggered by any one thing, but is instead a persistent issue that the person deals with on a daily basis. This unfortunately can lead to substance abuse as a coping mechanism in some cases. Further more, this persistent agitation can lead to violence and/or suicide in extreme cases. Because of this, antipsychotic medication is usually prescribed by healthcare professionals.
This is the one that everybody knows about when it comes to schizophrenia because it is always exaggerated on TV and in the movies. However, the hallucinations that a schizophrenic person experiences can be very subtle. These hallucinations can also be very damaging when the patient is unable to tell reality from their hallucinations.
3. Cognition issues
In addition to delusions and hallucinations, another major symptom of schizophrenia is the emergence of various cognition issues. While these problems can manifest in a variety of ways, some of the most common are the inability to process information, the inability to follow simple instructions, and impaired memory. Sometimes the person will also show signs of attention deficit disorder (ADHD) as well. In any case, the cognition issues experienced by someone with schizophrenia are often caused by their other symptoms, making this problem hard to treat directly. Some researchers have even suggested that the long term use of antipsychotic medication can be the cause of these cognition problems.
While a delusion is typically described as believing something that isn’t true, there are enough debates that psychologists take a bit more consideration. For example, someone believing in conspiracy theories doesn’t necessarily make them schizophrenic. Instead, someone who experiences delusions in relation to schizophrenia would be characterized by holding beliefs that stray from normal circumstances. This includes delusions of paranoia, delusions of grandeur, delusions of reference, and delusions of control.
5. Disorganized speech
One of the major symptoms of this psychological disorder is disorganized speech. This can take many forms such as rapidly shifting between topics in a conversation with no rhyme or reason, repetitive speech patterns, and making up nonsensical words. If the condition is severe enough, it can be practically impossible to understand what the patient is saying, making it difficult for caretakers and doctors. These speech problems can stem from other, more pervasive symptoms, making them difficult to treat directly. That said, medication, psychotherapy, and life skills training have been known to help.