Diagnosing schizophrenia may be difficult for the doctor because of the possibility that you may have paranoid thoughts or hallucinations at the time of consultation.
In the event you become uncooperative or unresponsive, your immediate family members will be interviewed to review your timeline of behavioral changes and emergence of symptoms. They may be asked if you're taking any other medication or have any allergies. Previous hospitalizations records are reviewed as well.1
The 'Bible' of Mental Health Professionals Around the World
Early on, tests for schizophrenia weren't standardized, which left plenty of patients misdiagnosed.2 Today, methods have improved, and doctors follow the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).3
The DSM (now on its fifth edition) has been published since 1952 with the intention of being used as a standard diagnostic tool not just for doctors, but for professionals in other fields that deal with mental illnesses, such as social workers and counselors.4
It's been referred to as the "bible" of mental health professionals5 and its contents are meticulously compiled by hundreds of mental health experts around the world.6
Answering These Questions Will Help Your Doctor Come up With a Diagnosis
If you are suffering from a schizophrenia attack, your loved ones should be prepared to answer questions that the doctor may ask them to confirm your diagnosis. The list below has several questions that your doctor may ask during the examination:7
◦ Since when did he start withdrawing from friends and family?
◦ Would he rather spend time with himself instead of his family?
2. Strange ideas
◦ Has he started to talk about paranoid thoughts, such as government conspiracies or supernatural beings?
◦ Does he constantly talk about how a world news event is somehow connected to his own life?
3. Risky behaviors
◦ Has he started to act more impulsively with a clear disregard for safety?
◦ Is he getting in trouble with the authorities?
4. Changes in activity
◦ Have you noticed any new behavior patterns that he didn't have before?
◦ Has his performance in school or work suddenly dropped?
◦ Are there any drastic changes in routine, or a sudden lack of interest in hobbies?
4 Conditions That Must Be Met Before Settling on Schizophrenia
Finally, before a doctor can conclude the diagnosis as schizophrenia, these four conditions must be met:8
• You must have at least one clear symptom of schizophrenia. It could be delusions, hallucinations or disorganized behavior.
• A symptom must be observable for a period of one month, and the changes brought on by this symptom may have been noticed for at least six months in retrospect.
• The symptoms must have a clear impact on social interactions and school or work performance.
• No evidence of illicit drug use has been found.