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    What Is Schizophreniform Disorder?

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    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.

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    If symptoms last longer than 6 months, someone has schizophrenia, not schizophreniform disorder.

    Symptoms

    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

    Causes

    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.

    Diagnosis

    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.

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