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Hearing Voices, Uncertain And Scared

Question:

I’m 19 years and im a guy. Im scared i might have pshchitzophrenia (schizophrenia) -excuse spelling. I think i hear voices or sounds in my mind. i don’t hear them with my ears but inside my mind. I was a heavy pot smoker from 14 to 18. i even huffed gasoline once. I sometimes get paranoid about people like they’ll put something in my drink. I have always been nervous in public, like i have social phobia. Especially when i have to walk in a crowd who is sitting down and quite. I try and avoid it actually. I can tell what weird or not but the voices i think or hear are scary. I think i think them and hear them in my mind. What could this be. I am fearing psychosis or being pyschophrinic (schizophrenic). Could this really be and over active imagination? Oh, and my ears are clogged with water and they can make hearing kinda hard.

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Answer:

You really should make an appointment with a psychiatrist as soon as possible so that you can be properly evaluated and whatever condition you might have be treated. It’s natural enough that you’d be frightened by the prospect of having a potentially disabling disorder like schizophrenia, but just because you are afraid is not a good reason to avoid finding out if your fears are true or not. In a case like this, you are better off knowing what is wrong than not knowing, because if you know what is wrong, you have a chance at treatments which can help your condition. If you avoid knowing, you just remain afraid, and things possibly get worse over time.

People who have schizophrenia do not develop the condition all at once. Instead, they pass through stages of the illness that tend to wax and wane over time. There is typically a "first break" or first occurrence of full-on psychosis, a period before that first full psychosis during which some symptoms are present, and a period of waxing and waning psychosis and lucidity that occurs after the first break. It is important to identify and medicate schizophrenia at the earliest possible time, preferably before a first full break occurs. The only primary treatments capable of really lessening symptoms tend to be medical in nature, involving anti-psychotic medications. If the symptoms are medicated prior to a first break, it may be possible to avoid that first break occurring in the first place. This is a desirable outcome as my understanding is that patients’ overall ability to function is better preserved when this is the case. Though earlier is better, medication treatment will help reduce the severity of many schizophrenia symptoms no matter when the condition is identified.

I’m pushing you to get yourself evaluated by a psychiatrist for several reasons. First, seems unlikely to me that the voices you describe in your mind are simply a product of an overactive imagination. Auditory hallucinations of this variety simply are not common outside of psychotic disorders. Second, a psychiatrist, rather than a psychologist, or general medical doctor, or social worker or any other sort of therapist is the proper sort of mental health professional to diagnose schizophrenia. Psychiatrists will generally have the most experience working with schizophrenic patients, and they are the only doctors who are really qualified to prescribe medications to properly treat the disorder. As a medical doctor, a psychiatrist is also in a position to look at your physical complaints (such as water in the ears) and judge whether these symptoms may be contributing to the problem.

You have little to lose by being evaluated by a psychiatrist. If it turns out you do have schizophrenia or a related condition, the doctor will be able to prescribe you medicine which can lessen symptoms like voices and paranoia. If you don’t have schizophrenia, but instead have some other condition, you’ll have the chance to learn what that condition is and how it can be treated. If this is all just an overactive imagination, you’ll find that out too. Please don’t wait or let your fear stop you from making this important doctor’s appointment so that you can find out what is happening to you and be in a position to receive a treatment that will help minimize your symptoms.

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