Diagnosis of Schizophrenia

By  , Expert Content
Feb 27, 2012

Schizophrenia is diagnosed based on medical and psychiatric histories, physical exam and medical and psychological tests and exams. Some of the tests and exams that are done include:

Laboratory tests:
The doctor may recommend blood tests such as complete blood count (CBC) and other blood tests to rule out other medical problems that can cause similar symptoms, screening for alcohol and drugs and imaging studies such as an MRI or CT scan of the brain to rule out any pathological lesion.

Psychological evaluation: If the doctor suspects mental health disorder, he or she will check your mental status by observing the appearance and behaviour and asking about thoughts, moods, delusions, hallucinations, substance abuse and potential for violence or suicide.

Diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia

If schizophrenia is suspected, your doctor will refer you to mental health professionals (a psychologist or psychiatrist), who will carry out a more detailed assessment of your symptoms. There is no single test that can confirm the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Most mental healthcare professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria to know if the person has schizophrenia. To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, the criteria mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) must be present. This is the standard manual used by mental health providers to diagnose mental health disorders.

While evaluating for schizophrenia, the mental health professional will rule out other mental health disorders and problems such as substance abuse, medication or a medical condition that can cause similar symptoms.

Schizophrenia is diagnosed if:

  • The person has at least two of the following symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disordered thoughts or behaviour or the presence of negative symptoms such as a flattening of emotions.
  • The symptoms have considerable impact on the person’s ability to work, attend school, study or perform daily tasks.
  • The symptoms have been present for more than six months.
  • All other possible causes of the symptoms such as substance abuse, medication, depression or a medical condition have been ruled out.

A person with schizophrenia is usually reluctant to visit a doctor due to his/her delusional thought patterns and as he or she does not think there is anything wrong with them. If you think a family member or friend has an acute schizophrenic episode, take them to a doctor.



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