Schizophreniform disorder is a mental health condition that causes symptoms of psychosis, like hallucinations, delusions and disorganized speech. It lasts fewer than six months. Treatment includes medications and talk therapy.
Schizophreniform disorder is a short-term mental health condition that causes psychosis. This involves:
The symptoms of schizophreniform disorder last more than one month but fewer than six months.
Schizophrenia and schizophreniform disorder have very similar symptoms. The difference is how long the symptoms last. Schizophrenia is a chronic (lifelong) condition. Schizophreniform disorder is a short-term condition lasting one to six months.
In the United States, schizophreniform disorder is much less common than schizophrenia, which affects 0.6% to 1.9% of people.
About one-third (33%) of people who receive a diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder will no longer have symptoms after six months. Most of the remaining two-thirds (66%) of people will eventually receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. In other words, their symptoms last longer than six months.
Symptoms of schizophreniform disorder are similar to those of schizophrenia and include:
Other symptoms of schizophreniform disorder are called “negative symptoms.” They refer to a reduction or loss of your ability to do things as expected, like:
If you develop these symptoms or notice them in a loved one, see a healthcare provider or mental health professional right away.
The symptoms of schizophreniform disorder can significantly impact your daily life. You may struggle with school or work, relationships and self-care. This may lead to job and/or relationship loss.
People with psychotic disorders, including schizophreniform disorder and schizophrenia, are at an increased risk of substance use and substance use disorder. You may be more likely to use alcohol or other substances to help cope with your symptoms (“self-medication”). If you find yourself in this situation, reach out to a healthcare provider or mental health professional as soon as possible.
People who experience psychosis are also at an increased risk of suicidal ideation or death by suicide.
If you have suicidal thoughts or behavior, see a healthcare provider immediately. You can also call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Someone is available to help you 24/7.
Researchers don’t know the exact cause of schizophreniform disorder. But they think it may involve several factors, including:
A healthcare provider will do a complete medical history and physical examination. No laboratory tests can diagnose schizophreniform disorder. But your provider might use various diagnostic tests to rule out physical conditions or substances that may be causing your symptoms. These tests may be blood tests or brain imaging tests.
If your provider finds no physical reason for the symptoms, they might refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These are healthcare professionals specially trained to diagnose and treat mental health conditions.
Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate you for a psychotic disorder. The provider bases their diagnosis on your symptoms and their observation of your attitude and behavior.
They diagnose schizophreniform disorder based on the criteria in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Schizophreniform disorder involves two or more of the following symptoms, each present for a significant portion of time over one month:
The goal of treatment for schizophreniform disorder is to protect and stabilize you and relieve your symptoms. Treatment generally consists of medication and psychotherapy (talk therapy). If you have severe symptoms or are at risk of hurting yourself or others, you might need to stay in a hospital until your symptoms improve.
Antipsychotic medications are the go-to medications healthcare providers prescribe to treat the symptoms of schizophreniform disorder. Examples include:
As your symptoms improve, you’ll continue to work with your provider to manage your medication dosage. Your provider will carefully monitor you for signs of relapse (return of symptoms).
Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is a term for various treatment techniques that help you identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Therapy aims to help you learn about schizophreniform disorder, establish goals and manage everyday difficulties related to the condition.
Two main types of therapy for schizophreniform disorder include:
There’s no known way to prevent or reduce your risk of schizophreniform disorder. But early diagnosis and treatment can help decrease the disruption to your life.
About 33% of people with schizophreniform disorder recover within six months. If your symptoms continue beyond six months, you most likely have schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, which are lifelong conditions. In this case, you’ll need to continue treatment to effectively manage the condition.
If you have schizophreniform disorder, you should do the following to help care for yourself and manage your condition:
See your healthcare provider right away if you experience the symptoms of schizophreniform disorder. Take your loved ones’ concerns about your behaviors seriously, especially if you have a history of psychosis or a family history of it.
If you’ve received a diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder, it’s crucial to see your provider and/or mental health professional regularly to manage this condition.
Schizophreniform disorder can be an alarming condition for you and your loved ones. If you think you have symptoms of schizophreniform disorder or psychosis, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider as soon as you can. Their job is to help you. Healthcare providers — especially those specializing in mental health conditions — are trained to help you not feel judged, ashamed or embarrassed.
If you think a loved one has signs of schizophreniform disorder, encourage them gently and supportively to get care. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in helping people recover and manage this condition.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/27/2023.
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