Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects an estimated 24 million people globally. It’s characterized by a range of symptoms that can significantly impact a person's life, including hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking.
While many people with schizophrenia receive a diagnosis and the appropriate treatment, as many as 33% of all cases may go undiagnosed and untreated, sometimes for years.
As an experienced, board-certified psychiatrist at Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health in Newport Beach, California, Dr. Hadi Estakhri knows that the right treatment is essential when it comes to managing schizophrenia. Learning to identify the signs can help you get the care you need.
If you suspect you have schizophrenia (or any other mental health condition), don’t hesitate to reach out to us. In the meantime, continue reading as we explore whether it's possible to have schizophrenia and not know it.
The basics of schizophrenia
First, it's essential to understand the symptoms of schizophrenia. In addition to delusional thought patterns, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking, people with schizophrenia may experience a range of other symptoms, including:
- A lack of emotion
- Inappropriate emotional responses
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty concentrating or following instructions
- Poor hygiene or self-care
- A lack of motivation
- Unusual or disorganized speech
These symptoms can vary in severity and be difficult to recognize in some cases. For example, you may not be aware that your thinking is disorganized, or you may not realize your thinking patterns are delusional.
People with schizophrenia may experience a lack of motivation or a lack of emotion. These symptoms are often mistaken for laziness, chronic fatigue, or depression. In those cases, you may suspect you have depression rather than schizophrenia.
Can you have schizophrenia and not know it?
Given the complexity and variability of schizophrenia symptoms, it’s possible to have the disorder and not realize it. Some people with schizophrenia may be able to function relatively well in their day-to-day lives, masking their symptoms from others and even themselves. Others may not recognize their symptoms as abnormal, especially if those symptoms have been present for a long time.
Additionally, there’s still a significant stigma associated with mental illness, including schizophrenia. This means some people may be hesitant to seek help or discuss their symptoms with others due to fear of judgment or discrimination. This can lead to a delay in diagnosis and treatment, which can worsen symptoms.
What to do if you spot signs of schizophrenia
If you’re concerned that you or someone you know may have schizophrenia, it's important to seek professional help. During a mental health evaluation, Dr. Estakhri discusses your concerns, reviews your symptoms, provides a diagnosis, and develops an appropriate treatment plan.
Treatment for schizophrenia typically involves a combination of medication (particularly antipsychotic medication), therapy, lifestyle changes, and support from family, friends, and even online support groups. You’ll also learn to identify signs of a flare-up so you can get swift treatment.
Many symptoms of mental health issues overlap, and sometimes it’s hard to identify what conditions (if any) you’re dealing with. Some are more complicated, and it’s possible to not recognize the red flags or to mistake them for other conditions.
However, early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve outcomes for people with schizophrenia, so it's essential to seek professional help if you suspect you or someone you know may have the disorder. Remember, seeking help for mental health concerns is always a sign of strength — and never weakness.
Questions about schizophrenia or potential treatment options? Book an appointment with Dr. Estakhri today by calling us at 949-945-0927 or using our online scheduler.