Schizophreniform disorder is a mental disorder diagnosed when symptoms of schizophrenia are present for a significant portion of the time within a one-month period, but signs of disruption are not present for the full six months required for the diagnosis of schizophrenia.

The symptoms of both disorders can include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized or catatonic behavior, and social withdrawal. While impairment in social, occupational, or academic functioning is required for the diagnosis of schizophrenia, in schizophreniform disorder an individual’s level of functioning may or may not be affected. While the onset of schizophrenia is often gradual over a number of months or years, the onset of schizophreniform disorder can be relatively rapid.

Like schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder is often treated with antipsychotic medications, especially the atypicals, along with a variety of social supports (such as individual psychotherapy, family therapy, occupational therapy, etc.) designed to reduce the social and emotional impact of the illness. The prognosis varies depending upon the nature, severity, and duration of the symptoms, but about two-thirds of individuals diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder go on to develop schizophrenia.

Schizophreniform disorder is a type of mental illness that is characterized by psychosis and closely related to schizophrenia. Both schizophrenia and schizophreniform disorder, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), have the same symptoms and essential features except for two differences: the level of functional impairment and the duration of symptoms. Impairment in social, occupational, or academic functioning is always present in schizophrenia, but such impairment may or may not be present in schizopheniform disorder. In schizophreniform disorder, the symptoms (including prodromal, active, and residual phases) must last at least 1 month but not more than 6 months, while in schizophrenia the symptoms must be present for a minimum of 6 months.

If the symptoms have persisted for at least one month, a provisional diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder can be made while waiting to see if recovery occurs. If the symptoms resolve within 6 months of onset, the provisional qualifier is removed from the diagnosis. However, if the symptoms persist for 6 months or more, the diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder must be revised. The diagnosis of brief psychotic disorder may be considered when the duration of symptoms is less than one month.

The main symptoms of both schizophreniform disorder and schizophrenia can include:[1]

  • delusions,
  • hallucinations,
  • disorganized speech resulting from formal thought disorder,
  • disorganized or catatonic behavior, and negative symptoms, such as
  • an inability to show emotion (flat affect),
  • an inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia),
  • impaired or decreased speech (aphasia),
  • a lack of desire to form relationships (asociality), and
  • a lack of motivation (avolition).
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