How to distinguish dementia from schizophrenia

As a relative, how can I recognize schizophrenia?

Delusions and hearing voices can be symptoms of schizophrenia.

Does your friend, partner, or family member hear voices commenting or criticizing their thoughts or actions? Does your loved one have the feeling that strange thoughts are being "input" from outside or that their own thoughts are being "withdrawn"? Does the person concerned believe that they are being eavesdropped, controlled or persecuted and cannot be dissuaded with logical arguments? Then it can be so-called Positive symptoms an acute episode of schizophrenia. The positive symptoms include thought disorders, delusions, ego disorders, hallucinations, inner excitement and tension (agitation, agitation).

How do thought disorders and delusional experiences express themselves?

Many affected people have trouble concentrating, feel distracted and think more slowly than usual. They lose the thread in the middle of a conversation or suddenly switch between different topics that are unrelated. Sometimes they result Sentences have no discernible meaning, new words are invented. Completely insignificant events or behavior by fellow human beings are misinterpreted and perceived as threatening or scary. A traffic light that switches from red to green, a clearing of the newsreader's throat or a parked car in front of the door will be seen as directed at you, interpreted hidden messages and viewed as evidence of a conspiracy, for example.

Many of those affected suffer from their delusions, for example paranoia. Others who feel religiously or socially called for a great task tend to cultivate their megalomania.

What is an ego disorder?

In the case of an ego disorder, the line between the self and the environment becomes blurred. Many affected feel remote controlledlike a robot or a puppet. Others are convinced that they are under hypnosis or that they are subject to someone else's will. They have the impression that outsiders can read, influence or even "withdraw" their thoughts. The sick usually blame an alien, overpowering institution or beings from outer space who use the most modern technologies.

Some patients believe they can read other people's minds. Or they "hear" their own thoughts as an inner echo in their head. These experiences can trigger bewilderment, great fear and strong distrust.

How are hallucinations expressed?

Hallucinations are perceptions that are not based on a corresponding external stimulus. Those affected see, hear, smell, taste or feel something that really does not exist. Acoustic hallucinations are most common in schizophrenia. This means that the patient hears voices or noises for which there are no external acoustic stimuli. If the voices are experienced as the perception of one's own thinking, one speaks of "making thoughts". Particularly dangerous situations can arise when the voices issue commands and instructions for action (requesting or imperative voices). If you have the impression that this is the case with your relative, he should be treated in a clinic as soon as possible in order to prevent possible (self) endangerment.

In the case of optical or visual hallucinations, those affected see people or images that are not there, for example they recognize a monster in the wallpaper pattern. Others perceive a certain smell or taste. In most cases, the perceptions of deception are perceived as threatening and eerie and can represent a great burden for the person concerned.

As a relative, you should Under no circumstances confirm false perceptions. But there is also no point in dissuading the hallucinations. Treat the person with the sick as normally as possible in the family and explain that you disagree. But avoid fruitless discussions. Give the person concerned the security to stick to him and to stand behind him.

How do you show inner excitement and tension?

Sometimes people with schizophrenia seem calm and self-absorbed at first glance. They hardly seem to notice their environment. However, they can be very tense and frightened inside. Suddenly the passive posture can turn into great restlessness and an excessive urge to move (agitation, agitation). Agitated patients can no longer sit still, walk aimlessly to and fro, fidget, rub their hands, tug on their clothing or handle objects. Experts summarize these behaviors under the term »increased psychomotor skills" together. Often there is also increased irritability up to aggressive behavior and uncontrolled outbursts of anger. In such a situation, try to remain calm and exude calm.

Also ensure a relaxed atmosphere in the room and remove any disturbing stimuli if possible. It may be useful to ask other people to leave the room. If the patient could injure themselves or pose a danger to you or others, do not hesitate to call an emergency doctor immediately. This state of tension can be interrupted with appropriate medication.

Read more about agitation and its causes, course and treatment here.

Early symptoms of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can manifest itself differently in each individual. In addition, in the same patient completely different symptoms in the course of the disease occur. If the schizophrenia begins rather insidiously, certain abnormalities that preceded the disease as so-called early warning symptoms can usually only be recognized in retrospect.

Certain early warning signs can indicate the onset of schizophrenia, especially if several symptoms occur at the same time. They show up in 75 percent of the cases months and years before an acute episode1. The symptoms can warn of a relapse, i.e. a new psychotic episode, even in people who are already ill.

Possible early warning signs

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decrease in performance, performance kink
  • Sleep disorders (insomnia or excessive (excessive sleeping)
  • Increasing sensitivity to noise and noise
  • Inner restlessness, tension
  • Excessive distrust
  • Fears of being harmed or threatened, for example
  • Cumbersome thinking
  • Irritability, nervousness
  • Sudden loss of interest, change in interests
  • Unusual interests, for example in the supernatural, magic, etc.
  • Increased problems with family and friends
  • Social withdrawal, breaking off contacts

The early warning signs are like this unspecificthat they are usually not recognized and correctly interpreted by the person concerned and his environment. Problems often arise in school, at work or in the family because social interaction is disrupted. Sick people find it difficult to approach other people, make friends or work in a team. They are increasingly involved in conflicts and increasingly suspicious of the people around them. Some are depressed for months, have difficulty concentrating and have trouble sleeping, while others complain of increasing sensitivity to noise and noise.

See a doctor early if schizophrenia is suspected

An incipient schizophrenia is not behind every disgruntlement, lack of interest or inner restlessness. Possibly these are temporary phenomena or reactions to stressful life events. But be vigilant, especially if it could be a possible relapse. If you suspect that an acute psychotic flare-up is looming, you should give your relatives a cautious approach Doctor visit move. Stay in touch and offer your support. If necessary, call the emergency medical service in the event of rapid deterioration. Only timely drug countermeasures can prevent the onset of psychosis.

The diagnosis of »schizophrenia« can only be made by a doctor after a thorough examination. Because even other mental illnesses come into question as the cause. If you suspect, contact a specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy or your family doctor. If necessary, he or she will refer the patient to a specialist.

You can find addresses of specialized early detection and treatment centers in Germany here.