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