How Schizophrenia Starts - My Experience with the Prodromal Phase

How Schizophrenia Starts - My Experience with the Prodromal Phase

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00:00
hi everyone in today's video we are going to be talking about how schizophrenia starts and we know what that looked like for me what my early warning signs were and we're also going to be delving deeper into what exactly the prodromal phase is welcome back to the living well with schizophrenia channel if you're new here my name is lauren and i make videos about what it's like to live with schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia and if you would like to see more videos like this one make sure to subscribe to our channel and also if you would like to help support the creation of future videos like this one
00:33
please make sure to check out the link to our patreon page it's in the description below through that we offer access to our discord server which offers peer support to anyone who is a patron of ours and you know we're offering peer support groups through video and also just peer support through um text chat and so that if that's something that interests you definitely check out our patreon page all right so what exactly is the prodromal phase of schizophrenia basically the pardonal phase refers to the period of time before the psychotic symptoms actually you know
01:03
or the first psychotic episode happens and so it's kind of a period of time marked by changes in behavior it's estimated that about 75 percent of people who develop schizophrenia go through this prodromal phase and so that's quite a high number of people who end up developing schizophrenia that experience this period of change in behavior and it can last anywhere from a few weeks to over years of time so i'm going to go over some of the signs and symptoms that may characterize the prodromal phase of schizophrenia
01:34
but something that i do want to draw your attention to and kind of you know emphasize early on is that you know these signs and symptoms can be markers for a lot of different things just because you are experiencing the signs that i'm going to go over about the prodromal phase does not mean that you are going to develop schizophrenia it can be an early indicator of a multiple multitude of different mental illnesses such as depression anxiety even bipolar or it can be you know warning signs for other health issues
02:04
and so it's really important that if you are identifying with any of the signs or symptoms that i'm going to be going over in this video to bring it up with your doctor and to have a conversation about what could potentially be going on but to not jump to conclusions that you were going to develop schizophrenia because that's just not it's not a cause and effect sort of thing the prodromal phase of schizophrenia does not happen to everyone who develops schizophrenia and also people who experience the signs and symptoms that exist in the prodromal phase of schizophrenia don't necessarily
02:36
develop schizophrenia all right so one of the kind of main signs and symptoms of the padronal phase is you know issues with memory and issues with paying attention and staying focused and that kind of thing so this can be one of the early indicators that things are kind of changing when you have this change in behavior around your ability to focus your ability to pay attention and your ability to access memories changes in mood can also happen or mood swings or mood fluctuations depression may be something that people experience during the prodromal stage and
03:07
even sometimes feelings of or thoughts of suicide and so you know this is a pretty serious one it can be potentially serious but again just because you're experiencing depression or mood swings or whatnot does not mean that you're going to develop schizophrenia but it is often a characteristic of the prodromal phase of schizophrenia another early warning sign is energy loss or you know lack of energy to do things that you used to do also sleep disturbances may crop up weight loss may occur because you are
03:39
just not interested in eating meals anymore or you just not able to keep up with that as much you may also lose interest in things that you once cared about and so this can be anything from hobbies and interests to socializing and interacting with friends and family there could also be a marked drop-off in your ability to perform at work or in school or things like that people around you may start to notice changes in how you look and this is largely to do with um not being able to keep up with personal hygiene some other things that might crop up or that you might become
04:09
aware of that are happening that are a little bit odd or you know not what you're used to are hearing or seeing things that aren't there and of course this is kind of an early warning sign of psychosis or schizophrenia if you're starting to hallucinate or have differences in perceptions or that kind of thing just oddities in terms of your perception of the world also kind of an early indicator is oftentimes kind of an obsession or interest in um religion or the occult or things like that so a really important thing to point out is that
04:41
people who access help and support while they're in the prodromal phase before you know they have their first episode of psychosis often have a better prognosis in terms of the treatment of their schizophrenia if it progresses to that now this is a really hard thing to do because like i said the padronal phase of schizophrenia is often you know looks a lot like depression or looks a lot like other health issues and so it's very very hard to know that it's the prodroma phase of schizophrenia even for a doctor or a
05:12
psychiatrist who's treating you oftentimes it kind of has to wait until you have that first episode of psychosis to be sure that you are developed or that you have developed schizophrenia so it is hard to treat during the prodromal phase but what i would recommend is that if you are experiencing some of the things that i just described as being characteristics of the prodromal phase to just go to your doctor and let them know what's happening so that you are opening up the line of communication and you have access to supports before things get to a critical point and then
05:44
if they do get to that critical point hopefully then you already have access to care and you'll be able to get treatment quicker and you know early intervention and psychosis is something that is stressed a lot because the prognosis goes way up if you have as early intervention as possible and so getting connected as early as you can is really important all right so now i'm going to get into my own experience with the prodromal phase and what that kind of looked like for me so i think the most market change in behavior for me
06:15
happened during high school and i began to just have this really intense sense of apathy towards you know kind of everything towards my social engagements towards school in particular because obviously in high school that's kind of a main focus of your life when you're a teenager and i began to skip a lot of classes in high school and i my grades took a marked decline decrease because i just didn't really care i wasn't you know up to that point i had been kind of like an honor roll student
06:46
model student and always excelled in school but you know in high school that really changed quite drastically for me and so that was definitely an early sign that i was in the prodromal phase of schizophrenia this is also when i first started to experience the concept called thought broadcasting and this is where i thought that people around me or other people could hear my thoughts and so this made me kind of nervous in social situations because i thought that people could hear what i was thinking and so
07:16
you know i've mentioned this in other videos that i would try to just think positive thoughts all the time and think really nice things about people because i didn't want them to you know hear negative things that i was thinking or to hear you know private thoughts that you don't necessarily want people around you to hear so that was kind of that hindered my my my social abilities throughout this time in high school too i really began to develop uh you know social awkwardness doesn't really do it justice the level of
07:49
social awkwardness that i exhibited and it wasn't with everyone i had a core group of friends that i was able to interact fairly regularly with they they they did describe me as kind of odd you know like i had quirks that you know like oh that's just lauren she's just kind of weird sometimes um but with people who i wasn't as familiar with and especially you know around like the popular kids in high school and stuff i had a really really really hard time interacting and you know
08:20
being social and so i remember one particular instance i think it was in grade 11 or grade 10 or so where a boy i liked invited me over to his house invited me and my best friend over to his house to hang out with him and his friend and it was kind of this double date we were gonna watch a movie and whatnot and i just they sat down to watch the movie and i was standing behind the couch and i just remember kind of leaving my body and i just kind of checked out from the
08:51
social situation and i stood frozen behind the couch and they're like come why don't you come sit down and i just didn't say a word i was silent for basically the rest of the evening and i didn't move i was completely stiff and could not move my body and i just stood there behind the couch for the entirety of the movie and then i left and you know revisiting things like this is like painful because it's very embarrassing that i did things like this and you know i was mortified at the time
09:23
that i wasn't that i wasn't engaging and that i couldn't engage i was just frozen in my body and it was a weird experience and this happened quite frequently where i would just check out from a social experience or social interaction and not say a thing and not move and i just couldn't interact in a typical way so this was kind of my experience in high school and i did begin to experience more fluctuations in mood where i was you know
09:53
feeling the first inclinations of depression but when i started university so the year after high school when i was 18 or whatever um i fell into quite a deep depression and i struggled with this for quite a few years um and you know thoughts of suicide surfaced and i struggled with that as well for these few years and the social awkwardness kind of just got more intense through my first years of university and i remember
10:24
um you know like again i could interact well with people i was comfortable around so i was very comfortable around my boyfriend and so i could interact with him comfortably but he would take me to you know parties with his friends from school and i just wouldn't say a word all night to anyone and you know looking back that's weird that's weird to go to a party and be social and just not talk to anyone and not say anything and like look for a wall to stand against and
10:56
i just wanted to recede and withdraw and that was kind of how i socialized throughout university which obviously created problems in terms of my ability to form relationships with people and my ability to form friendships so that was kind of hard and you know it's again hard to think back to that because you know that had a lot of implications for my life and i think ultimately that made my depression even worse and so it's kind of this huge you know spiral that you can
11:27
get into during the prodromal phase of different symptoms making other symptoms worse and just kind of you know spiraling toward your first episode of psychosis and that's kind of what happened for me i did this in other social situations too not just parties so my first roommate that i lived with we didn't really talk and it was primarily my fault you know she was also quiet and i was quiet but i took it to an extreme where i would just hide in my room and i wouldn't talk to her unless she like sought out engagement with me you know sometimes she would ask me to if i
11:59
wanted to go have a beer outside in the back and i would begrudgingly be like okay and then just proceed to be as quiet as possible and not really engage and you know again this created issues in terms of being able to connect with people in my life and you know when i moved in with my second pair of roommates um i i was sleeping too much and the sleep disturbances started to crop up and which made it harder to engage with them as well and then when i ended up moving again i
12:30
lived on my own for a while i went through a period where i just didn't really sleep or i didn't sleep very much and i would stay up all night um you know i had i had oddities in my behavior i would set up like i had a bedroom in my apartment where i lived alone but i would set up a makeshift bed on the floor of my living room and just camp out there overnight so that i didn't have to go to bed and i would just camp out there and either watch tv or play games or
13:00
read or whatever um but it was kind of weird you know looking back that i just stayed up all night and tried to occupy myself with things when i lived alone this is also when my eating disorder started to flourish and i talked about this in the addiction video we can link to that below everything that was kind of happening during this projomal phase and the snowballing towards developing schizoaffective disorder was really really hard on me and so i
13:31
turned to disordered eating and you know being meticulous in that realm of my life in order to deal with everything that was going on and it was really just essentially a maladaptive coping strategy to deal with all these other things that was going on the depression the social awkwardness and you know all these other things that were going on and culminating in the development of schizophrenia disorder during these first years of university i also developed a bit of an obsession with religion and i really really wanted to
14:05
find a religion that spoke to me and so i did a lot of research into a lot of different you know sex or branches of religion and i went to a few churches and got a little lost in exploring that for a little while that didn't last too long because i kind of got scared away by an intense experience going to one of the churches but that you know that's another early warning sign is kind of infatuation with religion and with
14:35
things like the occult and things like that i also was slipping in terms of um my performance in school during my first couple years of university i wasn't doing very well and you know it's not really that surprising because i was still had that huge sense of apathy that i had in high school and so it's very hard to engage in in university even though i was taking classes that i thought i liked and thought i cared about i just didn't have i couldn't connect with things that i i used to care about
15:05
so even though it was you know subjects and classes that i used to find interesting and that i thought i would find interesting i couldn't connect with that and i you know again like i was talking about before when i was listing symptoms or signs of the prodromal phase it's very hard to connect with things that you used to derive pleasure from when you're in this pajama phase so that was kind of the experience that i was experiencing throughout my first degree in university and then when i started my second degree in university that was kind of when things really started to shift i still
15:37
had the social awkwardness thing and i you know things shifted to where the depression became very very hard to deal with and i was experiencing intense feelings of you know thoughts of suicide and so i decided to seek out help and i sought out counseling services at my university and you know again this social awkwardness thing came into play where for the first like few weeks possibly longer few months i would have
16:08
like a weekly session with my counselor every second week or so and i just wouldn't say anything i just wouldn't talk or i would give the very bare minimum responses to what he kept asking me it was a very awkward experience and i thought that's what therapy was like but it's not you're supposed to talk and engage with your therapist and so that was probably like another you know early warning sign that i was in the pajama phase was that i couldn't i i couldn't communicate and i couldn't connect with other people even people who are trying to help me through this mental
16:39
health struggle and through this kind of first year of my second degree things kind of started to ramp up in terms of experiencing hallucinations and you know having more of that psychosis element at play so i began to have olfactory hallucinations where i would smell these really really terrible smells i thought that i had i thought that i stunk most of the time i thought it was really awful b.o mixed with something putrid and it was hard you know i was it made me even more awkward in social situations because i thought that everyone was smelling me
17:08
and thinking i smelled awful or you know it was just causing me stress and i was just smelling awful things everywhere i went i also began to hear my name spoken aloud um when i was you know in crowded places or at school or wherever which obviously i would just brush off thinking oh there's probably someone else named lauren around here who someone else was calling and it's nothing but then that kind of started to happen when i was alone too and it became harder to brush off but i still did brush it off thinking that oh my imagination was just overactive and over firing and
17:40
um it's fine i i brushed it off thinking that it wasn't really anything so this is basically what the prodromal phase looked like for me because then shortly after this all started happening i had my first psychotic episode where i had the full-blown hallucinations and delusions and um i ended up being diagnosed with bipolar with psychotic features which then was later changed to schizoaffective disorder because the psychotic symptoms were continuing without a mood episode present but
18:11
anyway i had a psychotic episode um so all of these kind of you know early warning signs i can now look back on and think oh yeah that made sense that this was all building and building and building up until my psychotic episode however when you're going through this it's very confusing and hard to put together that something is building and so you know that is why again i just want to encourage you to if you are noticing changes in your behavior or changes like
18:43
the ones that i've described in this video talk to your doctor get connected with a medical professional who can help you kind of navigate what's going on and maybe you know try some different kinds of treatment to hopefully prevent a psychotic episode but again it is very hard to treat you know schizophrenia during this prodromal phase because again it can be signs of so many other things as well so i just want to remind you as well that if you are experiencing these signs and symptoms
19:14
it does not mean that you are going to develop schizophrenia it can mean it can just be changes in your behavior that don't really mean anything or it can be your developing depression or another mental illness or some other physical ailment so i would encourage you again to talk to your doctor explore what could potentially be going on and get help if these symptoms are debilitating for you in any way or if they're causing you distress in any way all right so i hope this video was helpful in terms of describing a little bit more about what the pardonal phase
19:46
is and what it looked like for me um if you have other signs or symptoms that you experience during that you experience during the prodromal phase let us know in the comments below we would love to hear um what other people's experiences have been like with this and just a reminder that if you want to see more videos from us make sure to subscribe to our channel and also if you would like to help support the creation of future videos like this one please make sure to check out the link to our patreon page thank you so much again for watching and as always wishing you and your loved ones good health we'll see you in the next video bye

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