Schizophreniform disorder is a type of schizophrenia that lasts for less than 6 months.
Like schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder is a type of "psychosis" in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. It also affects how people think, act, express emotions, and relate to others.
Do these thoughts sound familiar?
Are other people talking about me?
Was I just lied to?
Is someone watching me?
Thinking things like this can be normal. But they could point to a mental health symptom if you lose the ability to judge whether they are likely to be true.
Everyone has thoughts like these from time to time. You might think of them as “paranoid.” But “you’re probably really having an anxious thought,” says Thomas Rodebaugh, PhD, an associate...
If symptoms last longer than 6 months, someone has schizophrenia, not schizophreniform disorder.
Like schizophrenia, symptoms may include:
Delusions (false beliefs that the person refuses to give up, even after they get the facts)
Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t real)
Disorganized speech, such as not making sense, using nonsense words, and skipping from one topic to another
Odd or strange behavior, such as pacing, walking in circles, or writing constantly
Lack of energy
Poor hygiene and grooming habits
Loss of interest or pleasure in life
Withdrawal from family, friends, and social activities
Doctors don’t know why it happens. A mix of things may be involved, including:
Genetics: A tendency to develop schizophreniform disorder may pass from parents to their children.
Brain structure and function: People with schizophrenia and schizophreniform disorder may have a disturbance in brain circuits that manage thinking and perception.
Environment: Poor relationships or very stressful events may trigger schizophreniform disorder in people who have inherited a tendency to develop the illness.
How Common Is It?
About one person in 1,000 develops schizophreniform disorder during his or her lifetime. The disorder happens equally in men and women, although it often strikes men at a younger age, between ages 18 and 24. In women, it most often happens between ages 24 and 35.
If someone has symptoms, a doctor may use various tests -- such as brain imaging (like MRI scans) or blood tests -- to see if a physical illness could be the cause.
If the doctor finds no physical reason for the symptoms, he or she may refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals who are trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. They use specially designed interview and assessment tools to see if someone has a psychotic disorder. For a diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder, the symptoms can only have lasted for less than 6 months.