Schizophrenia-like illness lasting less than six months is known as schizophreniform disorder. A diagnosis of schizophrenia can lead to symptoms of psychosis, including delusions, hallucinations, and erratic behavior. Schizophreniform is also referred as imagination disorder.
Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, share many characteristics with brief psychotic disorders. However, unlike a person suffering from short-term psychosis, schizophreniform disorder symptoms last for weeks or months.
It usually lasts between 1 and 6 months. Schizophrenia is technically referred to as schizophreniform disorder. Imagination disorder will be ruled out before schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder can be diagnosed. The symptoms of schizophrenia cannot be resolved, so the diagnosis is schizophrenia.
You will learn about the causes and symptoms of schizophreniform disorder, how it differs from schizophrenia, and more.
Read: Down Syndrome
What is schizophreniform disorder?
Schizophreniform disorder is a temporary form of psychosis, a serious mental illness that can affect your ability to:
- Expresses emotions
- Perceive reality
- Relate to others
Like schizophrenia and other psychoses, schizophreniform is the result of a mental condition in which it is impossible to distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. Schizophrenia persists for life, but schizoaffective disorder lasts for between one and six months.
Is schizophreniform disorder common?
It affects one out of every 1,000 individuals.
Who is more likely to suffer from schizophreniform disorder?
Between the ages of 18 and 24, the imagination disorder affects both men and women equally. However, men are often affected earlier. Women are most likely to suffer from it between the ages of 24 and 35.
Schizophrenia vs. schizophreniform disorder
There is no difference between schizophrenia and schizophreniform. They differ only in their duration.
Scientists have identified that the same symptoms are caused by three different diseases. Doctors use the following criteria to diagnose the illness:
- Brief psychotic episode: Lasts less than one month.
- Schizophreniform disorder: This disorder usually lasts between 1 and 6 months.
- Schizophrenia: The symptoms can persist for longer than 6 months.
Read: Paranoid schizophrenia
What causes schizophreniform disorder?
Researchers believe environmental, genetic, and biochemical factors may play a role in schizophreniform disorder, although the exact cause is unknown.
- Genetics (heredity): Parents may pass on to their children an inclination to develop schizophreniform disorder. Children with a family history of this disorder are more likely to develop it than the general population. However, inheritance does not guarantee a child will inherit imagination disorder.
- Brain chemistry: Certain chemicals in the brain might be out of balance in a person who has schizophrenia or schizophreniform disorder. A neurotransmitter is a chemical substance that helps nerve cells communicate between each other in the brain. Chemical imbalances can affect the transmission of signals, resulting in symptoms.
- Environmental factors: People who inherit a tendency to develop schizophreniform disorder may be triggered by certain environmental factors. Stressful events and poor social interactions may be among these triggers.
What are the symptoms of schizophreniform disorder?
Schizophreniform disorder has symptoms similar to schizophrenia, including the following:
- Delusions (false beliefs that don’t have any basis in reality and that you refuse to give up despite knowing they are false).
- Hallucinations are illusions (seeing, smelling, hearing, and feeling things that aren’t real).
- A disorganized speech is when you do not state your position clearly, use nonsense words, or jump from one subject to another quickly.
- Strange or unusual behavior, such as pacing, circling and writing continuously.
- Other symptoms of the disease include: limited emotional expression, lack of energy, poor hygiene and grooming habits, loss of interest or enjoyment in life, and withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities.
What are the complications of schizophreniform disorder?
Schizophreniform disorder is associated with schizophrenia in about two-thirds of patients. Schizophreniform disorder is often accompanied by depression, increasing the risk of suicide.
Read: Hebephrenic schizophrenia
An examination and medical history are conducted if symptoms are present. There are no lab tests for diagnosing schizophreniform specifically, but your healthcare provider may order a variety of diagnostic tests as part of the process of excluding physical illness as the cause of your symptoms. Tests may be conducted on the blood or the brain with imaging.
The healthcare provider might refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist if no physical reason is found for the symptoms. Psychiatrists are health care professionals specializing in mental illness diagnosis and treatment.
The tools that psychologists and psychiatrists use to diagnose you with a psychotic disorder are specially designed. Healthcare providers and therapists diagnose you based on your symptoms and behavior and attitude.
A healthcare professional or therapist then determines if your symptoms relate to a specific disorder as described in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5), a reference book compiled by the American Psychiatric Association that provides a simple, comprehensive list of recognized mental illnesses. Scheizophreniform disorder is diagnosed when a person has characteristic symptoms lasting between a month and six months, according to the DSM-5.
Schizophreniform disorder treatment
Treatment of schizophreniform disorder is intended to protect you, stabilize you, and alleviate your symptoms. Psychotherapy is usually used along with medication for treatment. When people have severe symptoms or are at risk of harming themselves or others, they may need to be hospitalized until their condition stabilizes.
The most commonly prescribed medications to treat schizophreniform disorder’s psychotic symptoms – including hallucinations and delusions – are antipsychotics. Commonly used medicines include atypical antipsychotics, a group of newer medicines. Some of these include:
- Risperidone (Risperdal®)
- Clozapine (Clozaril®)
- Ziprasidone (Geodon®)
- Asenapine (Saphris®)
- Iloperidone (Fanapt®)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel®)
- Lurasidone (Latuda®)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa®)
- Paliperidone (Invega®)
Read: Catatonic schizophrenia
Therapy involves learning about and establishing goals regarding the disorder, as well as managing everyday problems. Besides managing symptoms, it can help challenge thoughts that may not be based in reality and reduce feelings of distress associated with them. Families with loved ones who have schizophreniform disorder can benefit from family therapy, which will enable them to help lead to a better outcome.
Approximately 12 months are recommended after symptom improvement. It is important to gradually reduce the dose of medication and monitor for signs of relapse (return of symptoms). In addition, it’s imperative to educate yourself and your loved ones about your illness so that they can detect early signs of relapse.
Is it possible to prevent schizophreniform disorder?
Schizophreniform disorder cannot be prevented or reduced. The only way to minimize the disruption to your life, family, and friendships is to get diagnosed early and receive treatment.
These people can return to normal life after six months. The symptoms of schizophrenia most likely continue beyond six months, which makes it a lifelong illness.
Read: Seasonal Affective Disorder
Living with schizophreniform disorder
Schizophreniform disorder can have a devastating impact on your life. It interferes with your thinking, acting, expressing emotions, relating to other people, and perception of reality. It may cause problems in your life, including employment and relationships.
When returning to work after being in the workforce in the past, some people with schizophreniform find it easier. You might find it helpful to volunteer for charity first to see if a particular job appeals to you if you’ve never worked before. Ask yourself the following questions to help you choose: Do you know how to handle a hammer? How about sitting behind an indoor desk or working outside in a park? Are you more comfortable working alone or with others? Consider how your disorder affects your ability to do certain things. Be willing to learn to accept the challenges you face while you maintain the life you had before.
Hospitalization is possible for some patients. This may be required to ensure your and others’ safety.
Substance abuse is common among patients with schizophreniform disorders. Making such a decision would not assist in treating the symptoms of this disorder, but may also worsen your quality of life, further complicating recovery.