What Is A Schizophreniform Disorder?

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If you’ve recently been diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder, you may have a lot of questions. Even someone who has been told they have this illness may not have a true understanding of it and wonder “What is a schizophreniform disorder?” We provide the answers to this and how to get effective treatment for this challenging diagnosis.

What Is a Schizophreniform Disorder Like?

Schizophreniform disorder is a mental illness that affects all areas of a person’s life. An individual with this diagnosis will feel its effects in terms of how they think, act, feel, and even perceive reality. While in the same family of schizophrenia, it is a separate illness. This makes it important that a trained clinician can rule out both schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder and understand what a schizophreniform disorder entails.

Schizophreniform disorder lasts from approximately one to six months. With proper treatment, about one-third of people who develop it will recover fully. The other two-thirds go on to be considered to have developed schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. This illness is not commonly diagnosed, with only about one in 1,000 people developing it.  

There isn’t one singular cause for why a person develops this schizophreniform disorder. It can be genetic and passed down from a parent to a child. It may be a result of a disturbance in a person’s brain that affects their thinking process and how they perceive things. The illness can also be brought on by stressful events or relationships that occur in a person’s life, including traumatic events. Some people who develop this mental illness have a previous history of another psychological disorder or bouts of psychosis. Certain drug use can also trigger the onset of schizophreniform disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of Schizophreniform Disorder

There are several common signs and symptoms of schizophreniform disorder. These include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of interest in pastimes and hobbies
  • Withdrawing from relationships
  • Isolating
  • Depression
  • Experiencing delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech
  • Difficulty talking or concentrating
  • Pacing or walking in circles
  • Writing excessively
  • Difficulty expressing emotions
  • Lack of personal hygiene

How Do Alcohol and Drug Use Impact the Disorder?

Another thing to consider when discussing what is a schizophreniform disorder is how it correlates to alcohol and drug use and abuse. When a mental illness accompanies an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. 

About half of people who deal with a mental illness also develop a substance use disorder. Because of how commonly this occurs, many treatment programs offer treatment for both conditions at the same time. Launch Centers has a team of experts who know how to treat mental illnesses, including thought disorders.

Many people start out with a mental illness like schizophreniform disorder and begin to use alcohol or drugs to try to self-medicate. They attempt to temper hallucinations they have or deflect difficult emotional reactions by numbing them with substances. Unfortunately, rather than solving a problem, this can lead to developing a substance use disorder. 

Several psychoactive drugs can cause psychosis to develop in some individuals or trigger the emergence of an already existing psychological disturbance. Drugs commonly related to this issue include marijuana in cases where the person is a chronic user. Marijuana can worsen the prognosis of people with psychotic disorders. 

Psychedelic substances can also trigger symptoms like hallucinations and delusions that end up occurring long past the time that the drug initially wears off. Psychedelics that may cause these problems include LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), mushrooms, and DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine). Psychosis can also be induced by using stimulants like cocaine, meth, and methamphetamines. 

How Is Schizophreniform Disorder Treated?

Once a person knows what a schizophreniform disorder is, the next question is how to treat it. Once a professional has ruled out any other cause for the behaviors related to this disease and has given a diagnosis, treatment can begin. If the person proves to be at risk of harming themselves, they may need to be hospitalized until they can be stabilized. 

The most common treatments involve a two-pronged approach:

Talk Therapy

The individual will participate in talk therapy in order to gain a better understanding of their illness and how they can help manage it. The therapist can help the patient set goals and handle stressful feelings that come with their diagnosis. Involving loved ones in family therapy allows everyone to understand what a schizophreniform disorder is and how they can help their loved ones cope with it. 

Medication

The second step involves taking prescription medication that can help relieve some of the person’s symptoms, allowing them to feel more stable. The patient will likely be prescribed anti-psychotic medication. Common types include Thorazine, Haldol, Risperdal, and Clozaril. 

Even if symptoms greatly improve or a person reaches the state of being recovered from schizophreniform disorder, continuing some type of treatment can prove helpful. Many experts recommend the person continues individual therapy appointments for at least a few more months and, if recommended, take any appropriate medications.

Treatment for Schizophreniform Disorder in Los Angeles

Dealing with a mental illness provides challenges for anyone living with one, and it becomes more complicated when they also have a substance use disorder. Our treatment team understands how to help young people overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol and manage their mental health. We provide detox, outpatient treatment programs, life skills, and career development that benefit young adults. Contact Launch Centers in Los Angeles today to find out how to get started on the road to wellness.

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Meet Our Clinical Team

  • Jess Beck, LCSW

    Clinical Director

  • Eric Chaghouri, MD

    Psychiatrist

  • chloe kruskol

    Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

    Family Program Manager

  • Jose Hernandez, CADC

    Chief Executive Officer

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    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

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