MISDIAGNOSIS OF SCHIZOPHRENIA

The following story is about a rare event where a person was diagnosed with schizophrenia but actually ended up having a brain tumor.

It is very common for people who have schizophrenia to not understand that they have schizophrenia (upwards of 50% of people who have schizophrenia don’t understand that they have schizophrenia) but occasionally the reverse it true. The lesson for all here is to make sure the psychiatrists do the proper medical diagnosis before you or someone you know is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Generally this is true – psychiatrists typically take quite a while to diagnose schizophrenia because they need to do tests to make sure the problem isn’t something else like a brain tumor. Learn as much as you can about the disease and always work to get the best possible treatment for someone who has schizophrenia.

For three hellish years I was treated for schizophrenia. But a simple blood test could have revealed the real problem. 
A True Story By LUCY LAING

WHEN Kaye Asquith was told she was suffering from schizophrenia, she was a bright young student getting top grades at school. A year later, it was revealed that a terrible mistake had been made. Kaye, now 22, who lives in Barnsley with her mother Janet, 45, a nurse, was suffering from a life threatening brain
tumour . . .

MY NIGHTMARE began when I was 14, in the summer of 1995. I’d been a happy person – I loved going to school, had lots of friends and was getting A grades at school. My ambition was to go to university.

But I started feeling miserable and depressed – I didn’t want to go out and yet I didn’t want to stay inside either. It was as if I was drowning in the middle of the ocean with no one to help me.

I went to see my GP several times but he said I was suffering from depression and gave me antidepressants to take. But they didn’t make me feel any better.

My periods also stopped altogether – although I wasn’t pregnant. After six months they still hadn’t restarted so I went to see my GP again and again he put my problems down to depression.

During the next few months, things got worse. I smashed objects in my room because I felt so angry. My mother Janet was at her wits’ end – she didn’t know what to do to help me.

I was so angry, violent and depressed that my family didn’t even want to leave my newborn nephew in the same room as me. I took several overdoses of painkillers because I felt so depressed.

Fortunately I didn’t take enough to do myself any lasting damage.

Eventually, my GP referred me to a local psychiatric nurse, who was based at a nearby health centre. I went for counselling with her and she told me to stand in front of a mirror, look at my reflection and tell me that I loved myself.

But that didn’t work – I still felt terrible.

I was referred to the Department of Psychiatric Medicine in Barnsley and saw a psychiatric doctor once a week. In the summer of 1997 I was diagnosed as having schizophrenia and I was given a cocktail of medicines to take.

…They made me feel like a zombie. I had to stop going to school because I couldn’t cope. Mum had to help me get dressed in the morning and help me in and out of the bath.

… In March 1998, things came to a head. I’d been treated for mental illness and depression for nearly two years but I felt no better.

…COINCIDENTALLY , Mum took me to the doctor the next day and when he pulled my sleeves up they both saw the cuts on my arm. Mum was devastated and burst into tears.

She insisted there must be something physically wrong with me – that I
couldn’t be schizophrenic. But her protests were brushed aside. I just felt numb inside. Eventually they decided not to section me and I was allowed to go home.

My weight had ballooned from a size eight to nearly 19st – I was enormous.

Yet my appetite had disappeared. Mum had to force two Weetabix down me at breakfast and persuade me to eat a sandwich at lunchtime, but every mouthful was difficult to swallow.

Mum gave up her job as a seamstress to look after me fulltime because I couldn’t be left on my own.

Finally, in August 1998, Mum had had enough. She could see what a terrible state I was in and knew that the medication I was being given wasn’t helping at all.

She wasn’t convinced that I had schizophrenia – and she thought the time had come to get some proper answers.

She decided that taking a different route might be more beneficial.

So she took me back to the GP and this time demanded that I be referred to a gynaecologist as I hadn’t had a period for three years. I was referred to Barnsley Hospital – but this time to a consultant gynaecologist. The first time I saw him, he performed a blood test. The results showed that I had a major hormone imbalance. So he sent me for scans.

The consultant said that the good news was they had found a reason why I was feeling so bad.

Then he said that the bad news was that I had a brain tumour.

I ran out of the room sobbing. I thought I was going to die.

I was referred to a specialist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in
Sheffield where they did more tests and discovered that the tumour wasn’t
cancerous.

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