Anxiety is more than just "the jitters." It's an entire experience, with mental and physical symptoms that can be so severe that at times you may feel as though you're going crazy, and that your brain isn't working as it should.
With symptoms like auditory hallucinations (hearing things that aren't there), derealization (feeling like you've lost touch with reality), and depersonalization (feeling as though you're on the outside, watching yourself), it's no wonder that so many people with severe anxiety begin to fear they have schizophrenia. While anxiety disorders can co-occur with schizophrenia, it is far more common for a person to have anxiety without schizophrenia than it is for someone to have both or just schizophrenia.
Anxiety Disorders With Schizophrenia-Like Symptoms
Anxiety disorders, like many other mental health disorders such as depression, have the potential to make you feel as though your mind is starting to fail you, that you're losing touch with reality, or that you’re ‘going crazy.’
The two anxiety disorders most commonly associated with schizophrenia fears are panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. This is due to the overlapping symptoms of the anxiety disorders with schizophrenia.
Both panic disorder and schizophrenia have:
- Trouble thinking
- Trouble speaking
Both obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia have:
- Unusual, recurring thoughts.
- Unusual, recurring behaviors.
- Intense drive that isn't easy to explain.
How to Tell Anxiety and Schizophrenia Apart
First, those losing touch with reality because of schizophrenia often have no idea they're losing touch with reality.
Second, changes tend to be gradual, and they never go away. Those with schizophrenia may occasionally have a rare moment of clarity, but without medication their minds struggle to regain control of themselves. So not only are they unaware that these changes are happening, they also do not get a break from the symptoms for long enough to wonder what's happening to them.
Those with schizophrenia are often unable to notice and verbalize their condition and do not get any breaks in between symptoms. Those with anxiety do. This isn't a complete list, of course. Only a trained mental healthcare professional can diagnose your mental health. If you have concerns about schizophrenia or another mental health disorder you should seek help from a professional.
Why Do Those With Anxiety Fear Schizophrenia?
Anxiety causes the mind to believe in worst case scenarios. Anxiety can cause issues with thinking, trouble with reality, lightheadedness, and other symptoms that may cause you to think something is wrong with your mind. Therefore when a person experiences certain symptoms of anxiety, they may jump to what they see as the worst cause for the symptoms—which is often schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is very difficult to treat, and researchers are still trying to discover why it occurs and what is the best way to manage it. On the other hand, anxiety is one of the most treatable mental health conditions. You simply need to find the right method of treatment - one that works well for you, and one that you're willing to commit to. Speak with a mental health professional to begin your road to recovery from anxiety.