Schizophrenia is a brain disorder.  It does not have a cure but can be managed with treatment.  Schizophrenia may make it hard for someone to be able to think clearly, manage emotions, relate to others, and function normally.  Schizophrenia can be very hard to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to other conditions. 

There are different spectrums of schizophrenia that help a doctor be able to treat the condition.  The main types are paranoid, residual, catatonic, hebephrenic, and undifferentiated schizophrenia. 

To diagnose schizophrenia, a psychiatrist will do a complete evaluation.  They will be looking for signs of hallucinations, a symptom where someone will hear or see things that aren’t really there.  Delusions which are firm beliefs that are easily disproved.  Disorganized speech, where words or sentences are put together that don’t make sense.  Strange behavior such as walking in circles, or sitting extremely still for hours.  Withdrawal from others, as well as no motivation or no sign of emotions will also be looked for.  To be diagnosed with schizophrenia at least two of these symptoms need to be present for at least 6 months of time.  The trouble with diagnosing schizophrenia is it shares symptoms with other conditions. 


Schizoaffective Disorder

A disorder that sometimes gets confused with schizophrenia is schizoaffective disorder.  It is a condition that has similar symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations.  Where it differs from schizophrenia is that there are periods of either depression, or mania, extreme happiness or energy, that occur with this condition.  It is a completely separate and different condition. 

Schizoaffective disorder is then split into groups of if there are periods of depression with periods of mania, just periods of depression with no mania, or just periods of mania with no depression periods. 

Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are paranoid thoughts, delusions, hallucinations, trouble concentrating, depression, mania, poor personal hygiene, appetite disturbance, sleep disruptions, social withdrawal, disorganized thinking or behaving. 

Schizoaffective disorder is diagnosed with a physical exam as well as a complete evaluation from a psychiatrist.  It is important to rule out other mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, before diagnosing schizoaffective disorder.  Treatments include medications, therapy either in group or individual, and practical life skill training. 


Schizoid Personality Disorder

Another condition that is similar to schizophrenia is schizoid personality disorder.  Unlike schizophrenia, schizoid personality disorder patients don’t suffer from delusions or hallucinations.  Schizoid personality disorder is a condition that causes someone to avoid social situations or interactions with others.  They do however have no disorganized thinking or behaving.  Also they are in touch with reality, having no trouble distinguishing what is real and unreal. 

Symptoms of schizoid personality disorder are someone who prefers to be alone, they don’t want close relationships, difficulty in expressing emotions, acting as though they are cold or indifferent, or showing no motivation. 

This condition is diagnosed through a physical exam as well as a mental health evaluation.  Treatment is individual or group therapy.  There are no medications exactly for this condition but medications can help with anxiety or depression. 


Delusional Disorder

Delusional disorder is a condition that causes someone to believe things that are unlikely to happen.  Usually someone with delusional disorder will have one main delusion that is the focus. 

A main delusion someone may suffer from is believing they have cancer though multiple medical tests show there is no cancer in their body.  The difference between this condition and schizophrenia is that there are no psychotic symptoms outside of the main delusion.  Someone with delusional disorder can enjoy parts of life, and function normally. 


Anti-NMDAR Encephalitis

Anti-NMDAR encephalitis is an autoimmune condition that can have some similar symptoms to schizophrenia.  This autoimmune disease causes brain swelling.  With this brain swelling someone may experience paranoia, or hallucinations.  Usually with anti-NMDAR encephalitis other symptoms such as seizures, and suddenly pass out are also present.  


Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder.  This mental disorder causes severe mood swings.  These mood swings impact a person’s mood, energy, concentration, behavior, and ability to do daily tasks.  Usually someone with bipolar disorder has periods of high energy and happy moods with periods of low energy and depression.  In severe cases there may be hallucinations or delusions.  Because of these hallucinations and delusions bipolar disorder is commonly misdiagnosed as schizophrenia.  


If any symptoms of schizophrenia are present you will want to consult with a medical professional.  They will be able to look at your medical history, as well as do a physical exam to help rule out other conditions that may be similar to schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia is a hard condition to diagnose, because it shares so many symptoms with other mental illnesses.  


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