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Original Answer: Shervin Aslani Module 50: How is schizophrenia diagnosed?

Schizophrenia is known as the mental disorder which creates difficulty in the ability to think clearly, have normal emotional responses, act normal in social situations, and to tell what is real and not real. Schizophrenia is classified as a psychotic disorder due to people with schizophrenia displaying symptoms of psychosis. Schizophrenia is a complex illness that is present in both men and women equally. It is common for it to begin in the teen years but it may also begin later on in life. Schizophrenia in children can be seen after the age of 5; however, this is rare and can be difficult to distinguish it from other mental illnesses such as autism. There currently is no specific single test for schizophrenia. The condition is to be diagnosed after an assessment by a specialist in mental health. Complete blood count tests and other blood tests would be performed to screen for alcohol and other drugs which can show similar symptoms to schizophrenia. To be diagnosed with schizophrenia one must meet criteria that is given by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual has been published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health providers. Most healthcares usually use a 'diagnostic checklist' to help make diagnostic based on present symptoms and signs. The diagnosis of schizophrenia must rule out other mental health disorders, symptoms due to substance abuse and medication or medical conditions. During a test a psychiatrist will take into account medical condition, substance abuse, genetic and family history, how one's ability to function has changed, and how long symptoms have lasted. To be diagnosed with schizophrenia one must have at least two of the common symptoms of the mental disorder which includes: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized or catatonic behavior, or presence of negative symptoms for a significant amount of time in one month. In addition, the person must also have had symptoms for at least six months, and experience significant impairment in the ability to work, go to school, or perform daily tasks. Those with schizophrenia will have specific types of psychotic symptoms which can help in the diagnosis. Early symptoms can include irritable or tense feeling, trouble concentrating, and trouble sleeping. As the illness progresses other symptoms become present. These symptoms include bizarre behaviors, hallucinations, isolation, reduced emotion, problems paying attention, and delusions. There are several subtypes of schizophrenia which exist. Five common subtypes include: paranoid, catatonic, disorganized, undifferentiated, and residual. Paranoid is characterized by delusions and hallucinations and involves the less functional impairment. Catatonic is described by those who don't interact with others or engage in meaningless activities. Disorganized includes those with disorganized thoughts and inappropriate displays of emotion. This subtype involves the most functional impairment. Undifferentiated is the most common subtype and includes those whose dominant subtype comes from more than one subtype. Residual is characterized by extended periods without prominent positive symptoms. Other related illnesses similar to schizophrenia are bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder. People with bipolar disorder have swings of moods from happy to depression in periods. Schizoaffective disorder contains symptoms involving bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Those that have been diagnosed with schizophrenia may be asked to remain in the hospital due to safety concerns. Antipsychotic medication is used to treat schizophrenia by changing the balance of chemicals within the brain.