Schizophrenia: Diagnostic Symptoms

Schizophrenia is a very complex disorder and affects many or all of the functions that we rely on to successfully get through each day. The condition typically includes delusions (irrational beliefs) and hallucinations (sensory experiences in the absence of actual events). Schizophrenia is also one of the disorders that include psychotic episodes. We will look at a couple of case studies of people suffering from this disorder in future blogs. Meanwhile, we will look at the symptomology of this puzzling and tragic illness.

The DSM-IV-TR lists the following criteria for a positive diagnosis of schizophrenia:

  1. Two or more of the following, each present for a significant portion during the pervious month. Only one of the following is required for a diagnosis if hallucinations consist of a voice or voices keeping up a consistent conversation in the sufferer’s mind.
    a) Delusions
    b) Hallucinations
    c) Disorganized speech
    d) Disorganized physical behavior including catatonia (rigidity)
    e) Noticeable flattening of emotional range (seldom laughs, cries, gets angry at appropriate times).
  2. One or more areas of the person’s social/occupational life is disrupted. The person may be unable to function adequately at work, personal relations with significant others may suffer; the person is unable to attain previous levels of self-care. Academic levels typically suffer in adolescents.
  3. Signs of disturbance persist for a period of at least 6 months. During that 6-month period, there must include at least one month of symptoms from Category 1, or that are present in a minor form, such as exhibiting odd beliefs.
  4. Other psychiatric conditions have been ruled out (such as Major Depression, Manic or Mixed Episodes).
  5. The symptoms are not the direct effect of a prescribed or illegal drug.
  6. If there is a history of Autistic Disorder or other Pervasive Developmental Disorder, the additional diagnosis of Schizophrenia is only made if delusions and hallucinations are present for a period of at least one month.

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