Skip to content

    Schizophrenia Health Center

    Select An Article

    Schizophrenia Diagnosis

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    There is no test that can make a schizophrenia diagnosis. People with schizophrenia usually come to the attention of a mental health professional after others see them acting strangely.

    Doctors make a diagnosis through interviews with the patient, as well as with friends and family members.

    Recommended Related to Schizophrenia

    Working With Schizophrenia

    You may think holding down a job is too much for someone with schizophrenia. But with treatment, many people can -- and should -- stay in the game. "People feel better about themselves if they're doing something productive," says Steven Jewell, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University. "It's critical to recovery to move forward with your life, whether it's at school or at work." Jewell advocates a team approach to providing patients the treatment, skills, and support...

    Read the Working With Schizophrenia article > >

    Psychiatrists have the most experience with diagnosing schizophrenia. A psychiatrist or other licensed mental health professional should be involved in making a schizophrenia diagnosis whenever possible.

    A schizophrenia diagnosis can be made when all of the following are true about a person:

    • Schizophrenia symptoms have been present for at least six months.
    • The person is significantly impaired by the symptoms; for example, he/she has serious difficulty working or with social relationships, compared to the period before symptoms began.
    • The symptoms can't be explained by another diagnosis, such as drug use or another mental illness.

    People with schizophrenia sometimes do not recognize their symptoms, or may be afraid of them. They may be suspicious of others or think other people are talking about them behind their backs. They may deny their symptoms or conceal them symptoms from doctors or loved ones. This can make it more difficult to confirm a schizophrenia diagnosis.

    Diagnosing Schizophrenia by Symptoms

    Conditions With Similar Symptoms to Schizophrenia

    Other mental illnesses and medical conditions sometimes include symptoms that are similar to schizophrenia.

    To diagnose schizophrenia with confidence, a doctor needs to be sure that a patient doesn't have other conditions that are causing the symptoms.

    Conditions that can potentially create confusion around a schizophrenia diagnosis include:

    Bipolar disorder. This mood disorder includes mania and depression. It may also cause delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking and speech.

    Major depression . When severe, it can include:

    • Delusions
    • Hallucinations
    • Apathy
    • Lack of interaction

    Drug use. Hallucinogens or chronic use of cocaine can cause:

    • Hallucinations
    • Delusions

    Schizoaffective disorder . This is a psychotic mental illness that is almost identical to schizophrenia. But the patient also experiences severe mood disturbances (mania or depression) along with their psychotic symptoms.

    People with schizophrenia may also have depression or abuse drugs. These problems can make the schizophrenia diagnosis unclear. The only way for a psychiatrist to reliably make a schizophrenia diagnosis in these cases is by watching and interviewing a person over time.

    People with schizophrenia commonly also have:

    Many other mental illnesses and medical conditions may also share these symptoms. This makes these symptoms less helpful in making a schizophrenia diagnosis.

    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    vincent van gogh
    Famous faces you may recognize.
    paranoia
    Be aware of these warning signs.
     
    man with blurred face
    The real truth on this condition.
    dreamy psychodelic house and trees
    Types and causes.
     
    vincent van gogh
    Article
    paranoia
    Slideshow
     
    Schizophrenia What Increases Your Risk
    Article
    mother and daughter
    Article
     
    boy hiding under blanket
    Article
    male patient with doctor
    Article
     
    romantic couple
    Article
    businesswoman working at desk at night
    Article