No. Having unusual experiences does not mean you have schizophrenia.
It is understandable that many people worry about this. It's very common for people to have some form of unusual experience in their lifetime, and most people who have unusual experiences don’t go on to develop a serious mental health problem. Whilst approximately 1 in 10 people report having unusual experiences, less than 1 in 100 have schizophrenia. Having support from a mental health team can reduce the risk of developing a serious mental health problem by almost half, and outcomes are better for people who get help early.
Definitely not. Words like ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’ are unhelpful and stigmatising. These words are used by people who do not have any knowledge or understanding of mental health.
In fact, there is nothing ‘crazy’ about unusual experiences:
Unusual experiences, like hearing voices or feeling paranoid, are normal responses to challenging life situations - often things like trauma and stress. They don't make a person "crazy", but they do sometimes mean that accessing support would be helpful.
I think a lot of my unusual experiences were based on my real-life experiences, like being followed in the past, and being a target of hate – OASIS service user
Sadly, stigma can stop people from seeking mental health support. Fortunately, words like ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’ are becoming less common as mental health awareness improves. It is also becoming more and more common for people to openly talk about their mental health issues. This includes movie stars, musicians, and sports stars. If this is something you're worried about then it might be helpful to visit our Real Stories section. Here you'll read about the experiences of regular people who struggled with their mental health and accessed support.
Everyone’s journey is different. Some people find that with support their unusual experiences do fade away or become less intense. Others find that unusual experiences continue to be part of their lives, but learn to manage them.
We aim to help people get back to the lives they want to live, and this often means dealing with the distress and impairment that unusual experiences can cause. This is possible even if the experiences still happen sometimes.
We understand that many people do want their unusual experiences, like voices or visions, to stop. Although we can never guarantee that, we can be confident that getting help can make them much more manageable and much less of a barrier to the life you want to live.
If you're struggling with experiences like hearing voices or feeling paranoid, please do ask for help.