Schizophreniform disorder is very close in nature to schizophrenia. In fact, it is only diagnosed when the signs of schizophrenia have not been in evidence long enough to warrant a diagnosis for that disorder. When signs of schizophrenia are an issue for six months or less, the diagnosis is schizophreniform disorder. When those symptoms persist, the diagnosis is usually changed to schizophrenia.
Those who struggle with schizophreniform disorder, like those who are living with schizophrenia, are unable to determine what is real and what is not. They live in a world defined by delusion and find it almost impossible to connect with others.
Unfortunately, like other patients who struggle with serious mental health issues, it’s not uncommon to find that co-occurring disorders worsen the situation. Substance abuse specifically is a common factor, an issue that not only creates a host of problems of its own but that also worsens the symptoms of schizophreniform disorder. When drug and alcohol abuse exists in concert with that diagnosis, it adds another layer of urgency to the need for immediate treatment.
If your loved one is diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder or you believe that this may be the cause of their symptoms, you can find them the treatment they need to heal when you contact us at the phone number listed above.
There are a number of signs and symptoms that families can look for in order to identify the potential for a schizophreniform disorder diagnosis. These can include:
There is no known cause for schizophreniform disorder but, like many mental illnesses and substance abuse issues, it is often a combination of factors that contribute to the development of the problem. The following may be contributory causes:
A study published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica found that the negative symptoms associated with schizophreniform disorder deeply impacted the participants’ ability to connect with others and form strong bonds. For example, many participants found it difficult to maintain eye contact during conversation and others often closed their eyes for periods of time.
Additionally, common symptoms associated with schizophreniform disorder like blunted affect or flat affect can also reduce the capability of patients to empathize and engage with others on a social level.
The inability to connect with others often serves to increase the paranoid delusions felt by patients that makes them suspicious of the intent of others.
It can also make it difficult for family members to guide their loved one toward treatment; even the hope of recovery can be distorted due to the disease. Both of these issues can prolong the experience of active and untreated mental illness, which in turn can increase the chances of risk associated with avoiding care and treatment.
No. Schizophreniform disorder can co-occur with addiction and drug abuse, but drinking and drug use cannot cause schizophreniform disorder. However, depending upon the drug of choice and pattern of use, certain drugs in combination with certain personalities can manifest in symptoms that may be similar to schizophreniform disorder. For this reason, immediate cessation of all drug use in a medically supervised setting is recommended.
Additionally, long-term monitoring is necessary in order to determine whether or not symptoms are caused by substance abuse or the signs of an underlying mental health disorders exacerbated by drugs and alcohol.
Some in the medical and psychiatric field argue that because of the short duration of symptoms that either pass with time or turn into a diagnosis for schizophrenia, a diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder may not be viable. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that it may be more effective for patients who struggle with symptoms of schizophreniform disorder to instead be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder not otherwise specified until more clinical data and information can be gathered.
Though symptoms should not be ignored and immediate treatment is warranted, this diagnosis can indicate a highlighted need for ongoing monitoring to determine whether or not the symptoms are related to another issue (e.g., substance abuse) or early indications of a lifelong mental illness like schizophrenia.
A combination of treatments is recommended in the treatment of schizophreniform disorder. Rapid onset of severe symptoms, as is often the case with this disorder, can be scary. Medication is often one of the first methods used to stabilize the patient and help them get the symptoms under control so they are able to focus on other aspects of treatment. WebMD reports that the following atypical antipsychotic medications are commonly used in the treatment of schizophreniform disorder:
There are a number of different therapies that can be effective in helping patients to overcome and/or manage the symptoms related to schizophreniform disorder. When substance abuse is also an issue, many of the following therapies will also serve to mitigate the issues related to drug and alcohol addiction. Popular options in therapeutic treatment for both disorders include:
When schizophreniform disorder is diagnosed, immediate stabilization is often recommended.
This can be difficult to attain on an outpatient basis, and many families prefer an inpatient program that provides around-the-clock monitoring for their loved one.
When a co-occurring disorder situation that includes drug abuse or addiction is also an issue, it can strengthen the case for choosing an inpatient treatment program. Detoxification is difficult enough; when mental health symptoms are also a factor, it can increase the risk of complications or relapse when attempted at home or on an outpatient basis. Additionally, the ongoing risk of relapse is a constant threat to recovery on both fronts, thus inpatient care for the first 30 to 60 days can help ensure the prevention of relapse during the crucial initial phase of recovery.
Are you not sure how best to help your loved one address schizophreniform disorder so they can learn how to manage symptoms and find balance in their lives? It’s not something you have to figure out alone. It can be difficult to sift through the many options and claims made by thousands of rehabilitation programs purporting to provide effective care for mental health disorders and/or substance abuse.
If your loved one is living with both a mental health disorder and a drug and alcohol abuse disorder, Dual Diagnosis treatment is recommended. Only a program that has the resources to provide directed treatment tailor-made to meet your loved one’s needs can ensure the best possible chance at recovery. Learn more about your loved one’s options in treatment when you contact us at the phone number listed above today.
Integrated Treatment of Substance Abuse & Mental Illness