Schizophrenia affects how a person thinks or behaves. It can develop slowly and first come about during teenage years. Several symptoms for schizophrenia can also be confused for "teen angst" and ignored until later in life. Symptoms can appear years before someone experiences a schizophrenic episode.Below is a list of common symptoms experienced in the early life of those with schizophrenia:
- Becoming socially withdrawn
- Not caring about appearance or personal hygiene
- Loss of interest and motivation in life. This can include relationships and sex.
- Lack of concentration
- Not wanting to leave the house
- Sleep pattern changes
- Becoming uncomfortable around others and in conversation
The types of symptoms that are experienced include:
- Hallucinations. These are where someone sees, hears, smells, tastes or feels something that doesn't exist outside of their mind. The most common hallucination is hearing voices. They feel completely real to the person who is having them even though those around them will not be able to experience them. The hallucinations can be friendly and pleasant, but they are often rude, critical, abusive and annoying.
- Delusions. A delusion is a strong belief that someone has even though it is mistaken, strange or unrealistic. Delusions can affect how the person behaves as well. Delusional ideas can arise from hallucinations e.g. hallucinating a voice saying you are being followed and having delusions that you are being followed.
- Muddled thoughts. People with schizophrenia and especially those suffering from psychosis can have troubles keeping track of their thoughts and conversations. People have described this as having "misty or hazy" thoughts. This can cause thoughts and speech to become jumbled making conversing difficult.
- Behavior changes. A persons behavior can become disorganized and unpredictable. This can affect their appearance and how they dress can seem strange to others. People with schizophrenia can behave inappropriately or become very agitated for no apparent reason. People who have these experiences have described their thoughts as being controlled by someone else or that their thoughts are disappearing.