Clinical characteristics of Schizophrenia

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  • Created by: sia sundu
  • Created on: 14-06-13 20:31

Clinical characteristics

SZ is a disorder characterised by distorted thinking, impaired emotional responses, poor interpersonal skills and a distortion of reality.

It'a psychotic disorder, which are mental disorders where the individual loses touch with reality.

The person suffering lacks an insight into their condition

Disgostic criteria for SZ are very similar in the ICD and DSM.

The major difference is that the DSM specifies that signs of disturbance must be present for at least 6 months, while the ICD requires that important symptoms are present for only month.

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Diagnostic criteria

At  least 1 symptom listed under 1) or at least 2 under 2). Symptoms should be present for most of the time lasting for at least one month at some time during most days.


  • a. Thought echo, insertion, withdrawal or broadcast
  • b. Delusions of control, influence or passivity; delusional perceptions
  • c. Hallucinatory voices: running commentary, discussion of patients, or coming from another part of the body
  • d. Persistent delusions that are culturally inappropriate or impossible


  • Persistent hallucinations in any modality accompanied by half-formed delusions or overvalued ideas
  • Neologisms, breaks in the train of thought, resulting in cncoherence or irrelevant speech
  • Catatonic behaviour
  • Negative symptoms - apathy, paucity of speech, blunting or incongruity of emotional response.
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Course of the disorder

Generally develops in early adult life and although men and women are pretty equally affected, peak age of onset in women is 5-10 years later than men.

Childhood SZ is occasionally diagnosed but it's rare.

SZ is an episodic illnessin which periods of psychotic disturbance are usually interspersed with more normal periods of functioning.Emergence of psychotic symptoms usually occurs after a prodromal period of a few weeks or months in which changes in mood and behaviour are evident to people close to the sufferer but specific symptoms havn't appeared yet.

During this period, individuals often suffer from low mood and anxiety and experience difficulties in social relationships and in concentrating on work or study.

Active phase of SZ follows and a psychotic episode may last from 1-6 months nut can extend to a year.

Inter-episode functioning varies greatly between individuals - better inter-episode functioning is associated with better prognosis.

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