Hi I am a psychiatrist and i can help. I am sorry to hear of your difficulties. To answer your question, yes, stress can definitely exacerbate symptoms. Not only symptoms f schizophrenia but also mood disorders (depression, mania and anxiety
). As such part of my treatment plan with most of my patients is to include stress reduction, and enhance coping methods. In terms of diagnosis, you do not need to hear voices in order to have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is best understood not as a single disease, but rather as a group of related psychiatric disorders. Each of these is characterized by various combinations of the following symptoms: "positive" or psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions;
"negative" symptoms such as apparent lack of emotion ("flat affect") and motivation (" passivity");
cognitive impairments such as problems with working and short-term memory. That being said, you can have perceptual disturbances or paranoia in various psychiatric conditions including depression, mania, schizoaffective disorder
. If you are confused about your diagnosis, i would recommend having an in depth discussion with your treating psychiatrist regarding your diagnosis, differentials, symptoms and treatment recommendations.
I hope this helps. Please click the ACCEPT button as this is the only way I will be credited for my answer. Feedback is also welcomed and appreciated. Thank you and good luck.