Conditions across the Schizophrenic Spectrum are a severe health conditions. As a result, the condition cannot be diagnosed through a laboratory test or any other medical examination.

Instead, doctors and mental health specialists will make a diagnosis based on meetings with an individual – which will include an assessment of their symptoms, and possible causes.

Getting a diagnosis is very important

What are Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?

Schizophrenic Spectrum: The Schizophrenic Spectrum consists of a few different conditions that are characterised by a range of symptoms. These symptoms normally revolve around a difficulty in understanding reality due to changes in the way someone thinks, feels, or acts. These conditions usually involve a breakdown in the connection between thoughts, emotions and behaviour – often resulting in psychotic symptoms. Treatment is available, and can result in an improvement in quality of life.

Background

Initially, an individual with the symptoms of a schizophrenic spectrum disorder should visit a Doctor. The doctor will ask some questions based on symptoms, and try to get a thorough picture of the effect the symptoms are having on the individual’s life.

If a schizophrenic spectrum disorder is suspected, the individual will be referred immediately to either the local Community Mental Health Team or an Early Intervention Team.

CMHT’s and Early Intervention Teams are made up of a group of mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists and psychologists.

CMHT’s help people with complex mental health conditions. EIT’s help those who have had their first experience of psychosis. A member of one of the teams will carry out a full assessment of the symptoms of the individual.

Further questions will be based on a personal history, any past drug use, and a family history of mental illness. It is very important that the individual answers each question truthfully, as this can assist in an accurate diagnosis being made.

Diagnostic Criteria

The exact diagnostic criteria depends on which schizophrenic spectrum disorder a person is being tested for:

Schizophrenia and Schizophreniform Disorder

For Schizophrenia to be diagnosed, the patient will normally:

  • Have experienced the following:
    • At least one of the following (disorganised behaviour, catatonic behaviour, or a negative symptom like blunted affect
  • The symptoms have not been caused by substance abuse. If substance abuse has caused the symptoms, Substance-induced Psychosis may be diagnosed.
  • The symptoms have caused a negative impact on the life of the individual.

It should be pointed out that if these symptoms have been present for the majority of a six month period, then Schizophrenia would be diagnosed.

Alternatively, if the symptoms have not been present for a shorter period of time, such as a few weeks, then Schizophreniform Disorder may be diagnosed.

It should be pointed out that in the past, different sub-types of Schizophrenia existed. For example, these included Paranoid Schizophrenia, Disorganised Schizophrenia, and Residual Schizophrenia among others.

However, since moving to a “spectrum” approach – these sub-types have been removed, leaving purely Schizophrenia as its own condition.

Schizoaffective Disorder

For Schizoaffective Disorder to be diagnosed, the patient will normally:

  • Have experienced at least two episodes of psychosis – at least one of which has featured an overlap between a mood disorder and psychotic symptoms.
  • The symptoms have not been caused by substance abuse.
  • The symptoms have caused a negative impact on the life of the individual.

Given its similarities to other conditions, it can be easy to misdiagnose Schizoaffective Disorder. There are slight differences between several conditions, meaning it isn’t always clear which condition someone is suffering from.

Summary

By getting a full picture of how a schizophrenic spectrum disorder affects an individual, a doctor can tailor a treatment plan to fit their specific symptoms.

The sooner an individual seeks help for a schizophrenic spectrum disorder, the better. There is better chance of a recovery being made when treatment starts early. Treatment can certainly help, and in many cases will lead to recovery.

See Also

  1. Schizophrenic Spectrum: Everything You Need to Know
  2. What Are The Different Types of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  3. What Are The Symptoms of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  4. What Are The Causes of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  5. How are Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders Diagnosed?
  6. How Can Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders be Treated?
  7. What is the Prognosis for Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders??
  8. 10 Tips for Living With Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
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