Schizophreniform Disorder: Learn All About This Disorder

In general, the main characteristics of schizophreniform disorder are identical with schizophrenia. However, there are two major differences.
Schizophreniform Disorder: Learn all about this disorder

Schizophreniform disorder is a type of schizophrenia with similar symptoms. Typically, between 60 and 80% of these patients develop schizophrenia. Learn more here!

Schizophreniform disorder is known as a type of schizophrenia and as such has similar symptoms. However, these symptoms always last more than one month, but less than six months in their respective prodromal, active and residual phases.

When a patient has symptoms of schizophrenia but they have not been present for the six months required for the diagnosis of this condition, they suffer from what is known as schizophreniform disorder. Typically, between 60 and 80% of these patients develop schizophrenia. In some situations, patients suffer from bipolar or schizoaffective disorders.

In order for a patient to be diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder, their symptoms must not be caused by medication, recreational drugs, medical or other psychological problems.

Schizophreniform disorder

A woman with schizophreniform disorder

Overall, the duration of this disease is what distinguishes it from schizophrenia. In addition, it has no other underlying cause or explanation.

Epidemiology

Overall, people from all cultures can develop this disorder, with a majority of previously schizoid personality disorder in 50% of cases. New studies estimate that less than 1% of the population suffers from this disorder.

When parents have a schizophrenic disorder, there is a 20-40% chance that their children will suffer from it. This disorder can also develop into schizophrenia.

Although it manifests itself in both men and women, it is usually more common in younger men. 30% of patients do not relapse after the first episode. However, the remaining 70% have relapses or tend to have chronic schizophrenia.

Symptoms of schizophreniform disorder

In general, the main characteristics of schizophreniform disorder are identical with schizophrenia. However, there are two major differences:

First, the duration of the disorder is different. As mentioned above, it should last for at least one month, but less than six months. Likewise, the disorder typically does not affect the patient socially or professionally.

A woman is sitting on the couch, the world is spinning, for she is suffering from schizophreniform disorder

In general, symptoms of schizophreniform disorder are divided into two: positive and negative.

A patient may experience hallucinations and paranoia (positive symptoms) and apathy (negative symptoms).

Positive symptoms

The most important are:

  • Hallucinations. Emotions that the patient experiences in any of the five senses without any external stimulation. The most common example is seeing or hearing things or non-existent people.
  • Delusions. Distorted ideas that the patient is convinced of. They can often cause discomfort or worry. The most common delusion is non-existent persecution.
  • Disorganized speech and thoughts. There are losses of logical connections in mind. The patient manifests disorganized speech.
  • Disorganized behavior. The patient manifests behaviors that range from great irritation, such as screaming without any meaning to illogical behavior, such as wearing warm clothes in the summer.

Negative symptoms

Negative symptoms affect the patient’s personality. The most important are:

  • Flat effect. The patient experiences an inability to feel a range of emotions. For example, they do not look people in the eye and may have a monotonous speech.
  • Apathy and lethargy. Apathy is a lack of interest in things, while lethargy is a lack of energy. For example, the patient may have poor hygiene.
  • Anhedonia and social isolation. Anhedonia is an inability to experience joy in the things that the patient liked to do before.
  • Alogi. Poverty in speech, often considered a form of aphasia.

Treatment with schizophreniform disorder

A woman is sitting with a psychologist

Psychotherapy

In general, treatment with psychotherapy and psychotropic drugs gives good results. About half of patients diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder develop schizophrenia. However, the exact cause of the disorder is unknown.

The treatment is similar to schizophrenia. Psychotherapy and antipsychotics are the basis for the treatment of schizophreniform disorder. Again, it is important to mention that schizophreniform disorder should not have been caused by another medical illness or substance abuse to be a correct diagnosis.

However, cognitive behavioral therapy may help patients, especially in understanding their disorder and offering practical ways to tackle it. Other therapies and methods can also give good results.

If violent or self-destructive symptoms manifest, hospitalization may be necessary. Family therapy should not be overlooked as it helps patients tackle their disorder in a comfortable environment where they feel safe.

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