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How Is Schizophrenia Tested and Diagnosed?

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  • 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

Diagnosing schizophrenia may be difficult for a doctor due to the possibility that the patient 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 health 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

1. Withdrawal

When did they start withdrawing from friends and family?

Would they rather spend time with themselves instead of their family?

2. Strange ideas

Have they started to talk about paranoid thoughts, such as government conspiracies or supernatural beings?

Do they constantly talk about how a world news event is somehow connected to their own life?

3. Risky behaviors

Have they started to act more impulsively with a clear disregard for safety?

Are they getting in trouble with the authorities?

4. Changes in activity

Have you noticed any new behavior patterns that they didn't have before?

5. Performance

Has their 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

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.


Schizophrenia: Introduction

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia Types

Schizophrenia in Children

Schizophrenia Causes

Is Schizophrenia Hereditary?

Schizophrenia Symptoms

Schizophrenia Diagnosis

Schizophrenia Treatment

Famous People With Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia Prevention

Living With Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia FAQ

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