How Is Schizophreniform Disorder Diagnosed?
If symptoms of schizophreniform disorder are present, the doctor will perform a complete medical history and physical exam. While there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose schizophreniform disorder, the doctor may use various tests -- such as brain imaging (e.g., MRI scans) or blood tests -- to rule out physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.
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. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a psychotic disorder. A diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder is made if a person has characteristic symptoms that last less than six months.
What Is the Treatment for Schizophreniform Disorder?
Treatment for schizophreniform disorder generally consists of medication and psychotherapy (a type of counseling). People with severe symptoms or who are at risk of hurting themselves or others may need to be hospitalized until the condition is stabilized.
Medication: The primary medications used to treat the psychotic symptoms of schizophreniform disorder, such as delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thinking, are called antipsychotics. A group of newer medicines, called atypical antipsychotics, are most commonly used. These include Risperdal, Seroquel, Geodon, Abilify, and Zyprexa.
Psychotherapy: The goal of therapy is to help the patient recognize and learn about the illness and its treatment, establish goals, and manage everyday problems related to the illness. It can also help the person manage the feelings of distress associated with the symptoms. Family therapy can help families deal more effectively with a loved one who has schizophreniform disorder.
What Is the Outlook for People With Schizophreniform Disorder?
People with schizophreniform disorder recover within six months. If the symptoms do not improve, the person likely has schizophrenia, which is a lifelong illness. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about two-thirds of people with schizophreniform disorder go on to develop schizophrenia at some point.
Can Schizophreniform Disorder Be Prevented?
There is no known way to prevent schizophreniform disorder, or its possible progression to schizophrenia. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help decrease the disruption to the person's life, family, and friendships.