Please let me tell you what I have been feeling. Before a friend said what she did, I had no problems, never felt or doubted anything. Ever since this friend told me I have schizophrenia,  I have been scared and paranoid, because she said it with such confidence. She said that because I get angry at times, and cannot control my temper, and also because I take everyone's advice with a pinch of salt, not trusting them, and tend to take my frustrations out on my friends. And very lately, i feel im going mad, I say that because I felt I wasnt doing anything, I felt a heavy feeling at the back of my head, I felt a sinking feeling in my chest, as if something was very wrong, so thats why I said that. Now, today, I was perfectly fine till a female friend scolded a complee stranger because he was staring at her and then i felt a little scared. And then I suddenly felt really scared of all those people who had crowded around me and had to get out of that place. I felt like getting out because I felt suffocated. I immediately got out, and sat there, and then she worsened things by saying go see a counsellor, and then I began to feel even more of a dread, and even more of a fear about what would happen if I have a disorder. That took away my appetite and then I just wanted to go home. I still kept on having a sinking feeling, a heavy feeling at the back of my head, and felt scared. Now, I dont feel much better, I am constantly doubting my perceptions, i am really scared I have something. You tell me based on all this what is happening? Suddenly i cant enjoy doing anything- whether it is watching tv or reading or even sleeping. What do you think is going on, do tell me! Do you think I have a serious mental disorder? This has never happened ever before, and I am going to turn 24 this year.

Hi, Nadir.  Sounds to me more like a friend problem than anything else.  I'm reminded of the often humorous advice: "I'm a professional, don't try this at home."  Most people equate psychiatric diagnosis with medical diagnosis.  In fact, they are not the same.  Except for getting people like me paid, psychiatric diagnoses are meaningless.  Unlike medical diagnoses, there are no lab tests, no CT scans, you can't listen to someone's brain with a stethoscope.  The tool for psychological diagnosis is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) current in it's  4th revision with the 5th coming out soon.  If you took a look inside, what you would see is a list of diagnosis followed by behavioral criteria.  To repeat, psychological diagnoses are solely based on observations and report of someone's behaviors.  Psychological diagnoses are not prescriptive,  That is, once you have a diagnosis, it doesn't mean anything about treatment.  If you went to a psychoanalyst with a diagnosis of depression, his recommendations would be very different than a cognitive behaviorist.  All this means is that your "friend" is talking out of some other orifice than her mouth. What you've told me is "this had never happened ever before" in your 24 years.  Your letter to me is coherent. logical, and articulate  I doubt very much that you would meet the behavioral criteria for schizophrenia.  I do think that you are incorrect when you tell me that you were going to describe what you are feeling.  This isn't about feelings at all; it's about thinking and language.  While I can't tell you for sure what's going on, I can speculate that your "friend" got you thinking in ways that are not very useful.  And your own imagination (you must have a very good one) did the rest. This especially happens when you sit alone and ruminate on these things.  It's like a pond; if there's no fresh water coming into the pond, it becomes stagnant.  My suggestion is that you need to get with friends who have a very different perspective of you and can be the fresh water so that you can stop this toxic cycle of negative thinking which leads to negative physical effects which then leads to more negative thinking.  I hope this makes sense, I hope it will help point a better direction for you and (finally) I hope you can find more supportive friends.  Joel


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Joel Simon


General questions about counseling, psychotherapy and mental health.


Over 30 years as a therapist, clinical supervisor and solution-focused trainer. I've worked in a variety of settings including adolescent day treatment, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, community mental health clinics, and hospice. Further information is available on my website:

A founding member of the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association, Academy of Certified Social Workers, Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in New York State.

Co-authored "Solution-Focused Brief Practice With Long-Term Clients in Mental Health Services: I'm More Than My Label." Authored: "Solution-Focused Practice in End-of-Life and Grief Counseling" Several articles published in professional journals including 2 with Insoo Kim Berg. Further details are available at

Masters of Social Work (Yeshiva University 1978). 5 years training in Transactional Analysis, certified in Advanced Ericksonian Psychotherapy and Hypnosis with the New York Society (NYSEPH), Advanced training and advanced supervision seminar in solution-focused brief therapy with the co-developers of the approach, Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer

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