WHAT ARE SCHIZOPHRENIA DIAGNOSIS AND TESTS?
To properly diagnose schizophrenia, a person should exibit at least two of the following symptoms continuously for a month and also show some mental disturbance over a period of six months.
Some symptoms include:
- Delusions (false believes a person won’t give up)
- Hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that are not present)
- Disorganized speech and behaviour
- Coma like dazed situation
- Hyperactive behaviour
How to get schizophrenia diagnosed?
First of all you should identify a primary care doctor or a psychiatrist. You can inform the doctor about the patient and what you have observed. Ask the doctor what steps should be taken especially if the patient is not interested in getting treatment.
The doctor will usually proceed for a psychological evaluation and a complete medical examination. The doctor will want to know the family history, how the person has been behaving lately and if they were ever hospitalized for any mental condition.
The doctor will closely examine the symptoms to rule out other conditions like bipolar disorder etc. and mostly reach a conclusion.
Tests for schizophrenia
The tests will start off with a urine and blood test to make sure that alcohol or drug abuse isn’t causing the symptoms.
Some other tests, including scans to get an image of the body and brain condition, will also be advised. These tests can be MRI scans or CT scan to help rule out problems like a brain tumour. Certain test to understand the person’s comprehensing capacity like cognitive tests, personality tests and open-ended tests like the inkblot test may also be done.
Getting the test done and having the patient diagnosed as early as possible will improve the chances of managing the illness. If proper care and medication is given, including psychotherapy, talk therapy etc. they will gradually improve and do better.
Treatment for schizophrenia
The medications doctors mostly prescribe are called antipsychotics. These medications are sued for treating symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. The medicines work on the chemicals in the brain, especially dopamine and serotonin.
The medications are prescribed for entire life, even if the symptoms get better. The medications are in the form of liquid, pills or injections.
If it is difficult to administer medicines every day or the patient is unable to remember taking the medicines as prescribed then you can opt to get regular injection done at the doctor’s clinic once or twice a month. These injections are long-acting injectable antipsychotic medication (LAI). It works just as well as a daily medication.
Support for schizophrenia
Unless there is a strong support system, the patient will find it difficult even to carry out a medication plan.
You can be the prime support and learn as much as you can about the condition through one-to-one discussion with your loved one’s doctor. You can also ask friends and family the patient knows to visit and surround the patient with care as and when possible.
When a schizophrenia patient starts a medication, the person will feel better right away. But it may really take 4 to 6 weeks to show any improvement in the occurrence of hallucinations and delusions.
Keep the doctor in the know about the effects of the medication and if its working to its potential. Many times it will take several tries before finding out the medication that works best for the patient.