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when does severe anxiety turn into paranoia and than Schizophrenia?
Hello.  I am a 39 yr. old female who was diagnosed with anxiety/ptsd back in 1992.  My first panic attack was at the age of 15 when I smoked marijuana..that "feeling" seemed to last for months.  And when I'm under an enormous amount of stress/anxiety, that "feeling" comes back. and it takes months or a couple of years to finally get back on track.   I've had a few bouts with this anxiety..throughout my life. I've just dealt with it and eventually they would go away..The most effected times were,  After having children, divorce, relocating to another state..  My mother was diagnosed with Schizophrenia when I was 12.  What are the chances of becoming like her?  I believe this "fear" is the root of my anxiety.  I am currently using CBT(online program) and I am not on any meds.  I've tried them in the past, but the way they made me feel(out of it) scared me.  CBT has been a tremendous help in helping me understand more about myself and why I "think" the way I do HOWEVER...  Lately I feel like I'm getting paranoid.  I get this strong "feeling" that my spouse is being unfaithful, or that people are "looking" at me strangely.  I've also had instances where I've fought off feelings that my food was poisoned, or what if I hurt someone etc. When I think about my history with this, I can see a pattern.  I've had a couple of instances where I would get a paranoid thought, but I was able to dismiss it..It isn't that easy anymore.  I also get obsessive scary thoughts and intrusive thoughts.   I was always told that those who have severe mental illnesses do NOT know that they are ill(such is the case with my mother..she thinks we're all crazy.lol)  When does anxiety become more than just anxiety..is it possible to become schizophrenic this late in life? My mom was 42 when diagnosed, but her Dr. said that she had symptoms early on in life. I'm afraid this is what is happening to me.
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308787 tn?1201684948
Hi there I am going to say what I beleave is true. I know other people in the forum may not agree, I have been told and I have read on many accasions that anxiety does not lead to having schizophrenia, having anxiety can give you nasty thoughts I get them myself, anxiety, depression, is in a diffrent class to schizophrenia, even though your mum has it dosent mean you also will get it, but if you worry about all the symptoms thats not good for you, I reccomend that you have a word with your doctor and tell him or her of your concerns and im sure they will put your muind at rest do it as soon as possible.
yours Janis
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480448 tn?1426952138
I can certainly understand your fear, being that mental illnesses have a genetic component to them.

First of all...let me try to reassure you...anxiety disorders and schizophrenia are two totally different conditions, with unique diagnostic criteria.  I believe that you are experiencing "intrusive thoughts" as a result of your anxiety disorder.  That is a fairly common component of an AD.  Also...you seem to also have some obsessive thoughts going on as well....also very common in anxiety sufferers.  Have you been OFFICIALLY diagnosed by a psychiatrist?  If not...that is where I would start.  It MAY be possible that you have a slight component of OCD...or just some obsessive tendencies with your anxiety disorder.  You may have a dual Dx (NOT schizophrenia) to contend with...again common...but it makes a difference in treatment.

The MAIN thing that sets Schizophrenia apart from an anxiety disorder is ONE factor.  Psychosis.  A person with an anxiety disorder may THINK they are out of touch with reality...or FEAR becoming out of touch with reality...and even severe anxiety causes symptoms (like feeling confused, hazy, fearful, paranoid, untrustowrthy) that damn near convinces us that we ARE indeed psychotic.  Anxiety disorders are totally based around fear.  If we can think of the WORST possible thing that could happen to us (ie heart attach, being murdered, spouse cheating...etc)...we begin to fear that....and the harder we try NOT to think those thoughts...we are sometimes powerless to stop them.

HOWEVER....even with the frustration that you cannot shake these feelings...another thing that differentiates the two illnesses is the fact that regardless of HOW anxious we are.....we ALWAYS know deep down (and can often say out loud even though our nervous minds don't always get the message) that our fears are unsubstantiated, or blown out of proportion.  I KNOW for a fact that you know that.  You said so.  THAT means you are an ANXIOUS, but *in touch with reality* person.

A Schizophrenic patient that isn't being properly being treated almost always does NOT have that ability to reason and understand that the fears, worries and obsessions are not real.  They often begin to live in their own little world...often times completely outside of reality.  They do not KNOW that their paranoia, obsessions aren't real.  Schizophrenia also has a HUGE anxiety factor...but again....the MAIN MAIN difference is the presence (Schizophrenia) or lack of (anxiety disorder) PSYCHOTIC tendencies.

You wouldn't have written your post in the manner that you did if you had psychotic tendencies.  You are VERY aware that your fears, paranoia, obsessions and phobic thoughts are not completely appropriate....and are very likely magnified by you.

PLUS...and anxiety disorder cannot "turn into" Schizophrenia.  Another thing...the fact that your Mom was Dxed SO late in life is actually EXTREMELY rare.  MOST Schizophrenic pt's have their first psychotic break-thru in their early 20's, even late teens.  A psychotic break later in life is not impossible....but it again...is RARE.  

I have actually witnessed my dearest friend's sister have her first psychotic break at a young age of 22 (timing is everything too...it just happened to occur while the 3 of us were on our FIRST "adult" trip to FLA together...it was awful).  It is not something you ever forget...and being that I've lived with an anxiety disorder all of my life....I can CLEARLY see the differences.  Almost every person with an AD fears being "crazy" at some point or another....b/c the feeling that you cannot control your own emotions and cannot relay a simple message to your brain ("there is NOTHING wrong...why do I FEEL this way?") is very frightening.

Hopefully...I've been able to shed some light on this for you.  While you certainly need to address your anxiety....you can pretty much dismiss the thought that you are going to all of a sudden develop Schizophrenia.  Even WITH your Mom's history.  The fact that there is a mental health history in your family is very likely part of the reason you have an anxiety disorder.

Please stick around....we can help you to start working through your anxiety.  Take care and hang in there....you are no "crazier" than I am...as I sit here typing worrying about the ONE bear that has been sighted in our woods...coming and eating me and my children.

;0)
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thank you ever so much for your respond..you don't know how relieved I am to read your post!  I KNOW that my fears are irrational.  I fight with them all the time. My fear of my husband being unfaithful stems from the FACT that my first husband cheated on me and everytime a familiar situation comes up(now hubby leaving for town on a business trip) that is when I "freak out".  this is a similar situation that brings back old feelings.  I am currently a member of a well known anxiety and depression forum, and I know this is anxiety, however, when I'm at my weakest point, I tend to think " here it comes, the big hallucinations and hearing voices".   I've had this for so long, you'd think that I would cope and understand it all, but such is not the case.  I question myself all the time.  I became a stay at home mom two years ago and now I am "in my head" wayyyyy to much.  I need to " be in the moment" and leave well enough alone.  the "fear" of my mothers condition has been a HUGE anxiety for me and the fact that I will turn 40 in just a few weeks scares me.  She was 40ish when she was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  anyways, thank you for your time and imput..It was worth the reading.
I feel a whole lot better tonight.
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Thank you guys, thank nibor853. I'm in very similar situation. I'm a young male, and I have EXACTLY same fears as you. I'm so relieved that someone else has those fears. I've been researching and stumbled upon "anxiety" thing also, so I'm hoping that's what it is. Sometimes it's hard to get rid of those thoughts, the more you fight them the more they kick your *** heh. Lately, what has helped me was while doing something and those intrusive thoughts come back, I just think "ye come on in, I don't care" and they just fade away in the thing that I'm doing(w/e it may be).

Please respond back if you see this, I hope you're doing well.
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This sounds to me like OCD i have the same thing i fear that my husband is trying to poison me, and i also have the fear like what if i hurt someone that i love. These things aren't going to come true you're not going to hurt anybody. If you were evil enough to do something like that you wouldnt' be worried about it. So. I know it's so hard and the thoughts are overwhelming but it does not sound like anything other than ocd. Obsessive compulsive thoughts that will not go away that seem to pop up in your head for no reason.!
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968908 tn?1274874715
HIya hun, my mother was schizophrenic and took her own life when i was 4yrs old, so i don't remember her in any detail.  I too have severe anxiety, social phobia, agoraphobia and have worried about this all of my life to some degree or another.  My family history is riddled with mental illness and so i feel like it was written in stone for me at birth.  

However i have spoken with a couple of psychiatrists and therapists and even my mum's mum (nan) who is an expert on schizophrenia as my uncle has it as well and they have all told me that if by teenager stage or young adulthood this isn't dignosed then the chances of you having it are very slim indeed.  The fact that you are reconising that your feeling paranoid would tell me straight away that your not psychotic, cause trust me if you were you would believe these thoughts 100% and wouldn't doubt them for a moment.  You would truely believe that your food is posioned and that people are watching you and you most certainly wouldn't post on here in the manner you have.  It would proberly be more along the lines of 'someone is trying to kill me, everyone is watching me...HELP!!

Maybe just to ease your own mind regarding this you should talk to a professional who may be able to come up with something none of us would.  I do hope you manage to feel better soon and good-luck.  Let us know how you get on and all the best.

Julie xxx
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i dont know in which way i do hear my own voice like my thoughts it just started like im 22 but i dont get it all the time its certain times like when im just chilling watching tv i talk to my self in my head and im like shut up,and ill tell myself in my head "man i do need to shut up huh?" but its like i am hearing voices idk if that is what you mean. but other then that i dont have no serious symptoms i just feel pressure in my ear thats all i get but im not sure if that means anything what would yall say folks i do however have severe ear infection and cant hear from one ear and when i talk my voice echos in my head i have no problem with lighting, no problem with sighting, i do see things but their the little orbs we all have in our eyes,i dont think i believe in people following me,or people out for me,but i do repeat prayers and seek reassurance when i think i heard a voice, i then wash my hands and brush my teeth till i bleed i do however believe everything is alive like i cant throw things away even wrappers because i feel they have feelings and they wanna be saved so ill be like "ok come on guys" lol i am a whordore big time because of this illness i talk to my stuff and i give them a voice which is me talking to them and ill give them a personality like even my blanket when im in panic and saying "oh man im going insane" i make my blankets and pillows tell me "no your not rob you are fine, pray read the bible, God has plans for you" then im comforted by myself see i reassure myself is that a sign of schizophrenia im scared and in tears i even watch sad movies to see if im normal to see if i can cry and surely i do, i see jesus movies and still cry i watch funny movies and laugh i am scared though what if i become schizo im 22 and paranoid and scared of everything i have a severe anxiety with my ear infection and anxiety meet they make me feel im floating or falling or spinning and i panic when im in these situations
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OCD, your not schitzophrinic, your mom was never aware of it like you are. Which means your not....
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Hy, I have some worries to confess too. I have a history of schizophrenia in my family too (my father developed it). I inherited part of this. I have acute psychosis. My problem is, being in my early 20's, this is the time you start developing schizophrenia and the thought of that creeps me out.
I took medication almost my entire childhood, then stopped taking it at the age of 16. I didn't need it anymore because I felt much better, and I usually don't have problems. But recently I had a pretty stressful time and the anxiety of that triggered all these fears of becoming schizophrenic. Are psychotic disorders (even if they happen for a short time) a clear sign of schizophrenia? If schizophrenia is inherited, how great are the chances of it developing in you as well? I am aware of my fears and reality, and I don't present any schizophrenic symptoms (hallucinations, paranoia etc) but it is the though that in the next couple of years these might emerge that scares me. I manage to ignore these fears most of the time, but there are moments when I simply feel insecure because I can't tell for sure if the mental problems I have will get worse and turn into schizophrenia.
Hope someone can give me so calming answers. Thank you
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Hi my name is Gary
When I was about 15 years old I smoked some pot and had a panic attack. The anxiety after that was so unbelievable that I became trapped in my own fears. I had no idea what anxiety was because I was young and ignorant. I went through it for about 8 to 9 months and then had a breakthrough. I went to the hospital when I first had my panic attack after smoking and the doctor told me to stay away from caffeine so I did and feared it. That fear turned into what if people poison my food drinks so on. I was talking to my dad about my anxiety and told him what my fears where and he said hold on I'll be right back grabbed a snickers bar and broke me off a piece and said here try it it won't do anything to you. It's safe. I built up the courage and are it. My anxiety was gone I was so happy! 5to6 years anxiety free! Now being the dumb a** I am I let my guard down and tried it again. Same thing is currently happening now. My fears Are very similar but now I'm afraid of becoming schizophrenic this *****. I'm having a baby in a month. It's so hard to deal with the physical symptoms to. Very tired all of the time my eyes feel blurry I feel paranoid it's just so hard. Not to mention anytime I feel different I HAVE to read if peoe are going through the same thing I am. Someone help!
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It appears an increase in caffeine consumption is a precursor to panic attacks/OCD/anxiety disorders. Check out dr Mary Reed's web site https://ocd-free.org she talks about completely dropping caffeine including decaf. Then add essential oils (omega 3) and various herbs or blue green algae spirulina. That helped me numerous times but I let my guard down each time and get back to coffee and then it will strike again. This time I am going to drop caffeine for good.

It does take many months, often 9 months, to be free or nearly free. Originally my anxiety lasted for nearly 3 years and then I followed the protocol and it went mostly away by 9 months and then completely free after 16 or so. Years later I had reoccurrences but they subsided quickly (2 months) if I dropped caffeine and took spirulina. Have been free for 2.5 years and came down with anxiety again - but I did drink coffee regularly plus bad diet.

Anyway, trying this again and I suggest to others to try it to. Nothing to lose, the advice she gives is free.
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Lately ive been feeling like this. It all started new years day. I had given up drinking, mind you I had been drinking a six pack everyday for about a month. The day I stopped I had a huge panic attack. Never had one before. Really freaked me out. My parents took me to the er. So I told them nothing about the drinking. Just that I felt weird and was having thoughts of conspiracy (Alex Jones is to blame lol) and strange thoughts of hurting someone even though I know deep down I couldn't. So when the nurse went outside I heard her say he might be schizophrenic, which got me thinking about it. So I looked it up and now am completely paranoid that I am. I'll think from time to time everyone's out to get me or I'm in a fake world, then I'll tell myself I'm overreacting and be fine. My mom says it's from the withdrawal of alcohol (which I researched). Or my ocd (washed my hands till the bled when I was younger) 4th grade teacher freaked me out about germs. Am I going to become schizophrenic ?I'm really worried. Please help
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I wanted to let you know that what you are feeling are very classic symptoms of anxiety disorders like panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.  I've had similar symptoms and they can be very common in the anxiety community.  Obsessive compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder (forgive me if you already know everything I am writing, I wanted to let you know just in case you didn't know) and it is very common to have it alongside other anxiety conditions.  Derealization is the name for the feelings one gets when they feel very disconnected from the world around them, either worrying it is fake, or feeling foggy-brained and stuff like that.  It is a very common anxiety symptom, and it does pass.  :)  It can be very scary at the time, but it truly does pass.  These can be triggered or made worse by chemical imbalances in the brain, outside stressors (traumatic events, etc.), poor sleeping habits, poor diet.  But it can also be helped by various things too, so it's something that will pass with time.  A great thing for obsessive compulsive disorder is cognitive behavioural therapy.  Some people work with that alongside medication, while others can use just medication, or just cognitive behavioural therapy, etc..  There is also something called progressive muscle relaxation which has been proven to be beneficial to those suffering with anxiety.  But persistence is key!  As my psychiatrist suggested, beginning it with two sessions a day then dropping it down to one per day after the first month can be very helpful.  Some people don't notice much of a difference for the first couple/few weeks, but others notice improvement faster.  You also should space the two sessions out so they aren't just back-to-back if this is something you are interested in.  I read on a website that it is not suggested doing this after taking sedatives (I am unclear as to why exactly, but it may be because some people get so relaxed they fall asleep during practice XD).  Feeling paranoid is also a common anxiety as is the fear of being crazy.  Are you currently taking any medications to help with your conditions?  
I also wanted to note that things can be made much worse by imbalances of certain vitamins and minerals (an example would be the B vitamins, imbalances in those can definitely affect cognitive function).  Also, getting bloodwork to ensure that there aren't any other underlying conditions contributing is a good idea (I don't want to scare you into worrying that you have a different terrible illness or anything like that, I just want to mention that sometimes something as simple as blood sugar levels can affect anxiety and derealization).  If you haven't before and are able to, I would suggest getting a full check up and working with a psychologist or psychiatrist to figure out the best options for you. :)  
Hoping you feel and get well soon, and remember that the scariest moments do pass and you will get better.  
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Hi to all.
I know this thread is very old but I thought I ask anyway.

So I have always had health anxiety (since late teens) and Pure-O OCD. I have had "mental health anxiety" for the last two years where I have thought I m becoming schizophrenic, bipolar etc etc. I d like to mention here that the first cousin of my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was young.
Lately I have moved in a new country and for some reason I started googling "paranoia" whenever I got anxious (although I know that anytime that there is a big change in my life I get all hypochondriac and start googling symptoms of diseases). After a break up that I guess was quite traumatising emotionally, I started having very very paranoid thoughts. It began with "what if I thought that people want to kill me" and progressed towards poisoning,being judged, being watched, "secret signals", having cameras around etc. I get very very scared by these thoughts and I constantly feel like I m out of the moment. I also google obsessively about paranoia and other mental disorders. I don't really know if these thoughts are because of the crap that I have read or are substantially the onset of paranoid schizo. I can't enjoy anything because any stimulation I receive from my environment is "translated" in the most paranoid way from my brain. I have to note here that I have never avoided food from anyone and never avoided being in the same place as other people but whenever I get triggered I am bombarded by these thoughts and whenever I am alone I just think or google about what they mean. I neglect my physical appearence, don't care about going out or getting romantic with anyone and I am in my own head all of the time. I feel like I am behaving almost appropriately out of habit but inside my head I am making up the most paranoid scenarios. I really just want this nightmare to end, find myself again and continue with my life. I really don't want to become paranoid schizophrenic. This whole thing has been going on for the last 5 months and I am really sick of it at this point. I haven't heard any voices or had any hallucinations (I was afraid of these in the past but now the fear of paranoia is much much bigger I guess). I started going to a therapist that introduced me to mindfulness and I hope this will help me but I wanted to ask your opinion also. Special thanks to anyone that replies.
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