What is acute schizophrenia?

What is acute schizophrenia?

Acute schizophrenia is considered to be the active phase of schizophrenia-a mental health disorder that affects one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

“The media tend to render diagnostics as [individuals] People who only hear voices and talk to themselves,” said Abigale Johnson of LCSW. “This may be an aspect of schizophrenia, but not everyone behaves the same. ”

Brooklyn Minds psychiatrist and MD Stephen Geisler added that people may experience hallucinations or delusions, but their thoughts can be completely logical and coherent. Therefore, schizophrenia is sometimes misdiagnosed and mistaken for another mental illness.

Understand the symptoms, similar diagnosis and treatment options of acute schizophrenia.


According to Lawrence Greenberg MD, Chief Medical Officer of MindPath Care Center, the main symptoms of acute schizophrenia are also considered to be active psychosis, including:

  • Decreased functional ability: unable to take care of work, school, work or normal social interaction
  • Delusion: A misconception or idea that the individual believes
  • Disorganized behavior: This can be manifested in many ways. It can include strange, bizarre behaviors, such as smiling, laughing or talking to oneself, or concentrating/reacting to internal stimuli. It can also include purposeless, contradictory behavior or actions. It may also involve catatonia, which is characterized by a person’s significantly reduced responsiveness to the environment. This may involve coma, silence, negativity or rigid movement, or even purposeless excitement.
  • Confusion of thinking or speech: This is called “thinking disorder”, which usually makes it difficult for these people to communicate clearly with others.
  • Hallucinations: This includes hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. The two most common diagnoses are hearing and vision.
  • Negative symptoms: Negative symptoms include lack of something, including inability to express emotions, apathy, difficulty speaking, and withdrawal from social situations and relationships. This includes a decline in the ability to express emotions, which is generally considered a flat or restricted emotion.

“It is not uncommon to see symptoms suggestive of depression or strange behavior without proper stimulation, such as laughing without proper stimulation,” said Dr. Geisler. “Patients often experience negative symptoms, that is, decreased emotional expression and/or decline in interpersonal, social, and professional functions,”

Dr. Geisler said that to diagnose schizophrenia, symptoms must persist for at least six months.

Related diseases

Mental health disorders are difficult to diagnose, and schizophrenia is no exception. This is a very complex mental health condition, accompanied by many symptoms, any of which may lead to misdiagnosis.

This is why it is important to discuss the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of you or your loved ones with a mental health professional.

Other diagnoses similar to schizophrenia include:

  • Bipolar disorder: Symptoms can range from excessive talking and impulsive behavior to feeling hopeless or sleeping too much, depending on the type of disease. For bipolar mania, possible symptoms include delusions or hallucinations, which are also seen in schizophrenia.
  • Delirium: A neurological disease, delirium can occur at any age. It can be caused by drug use, dehydration or infection. Symptoms include impaired judgment, difficulty concentrating, and hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia.
  • Dementia: This chronic disease involves cognitive impairment and may include symptoms such as personality changes, memory loss, and communication difficulties. People with schizophrenia have a higher risk of dementia.
  • Paranoia: This may occur in acute schizophrenia, but individuals may experience paranoia without schizophrenia. Paranoia is a state of suspicion.
  • Schizophrenic personality disorder: Acute schizophrenia may be misdiagnosed as this personality disorder, in which paranoid thoughts and strange behaviors are considered the primary symptoms. People with this personality disorder often have difficulty interacting with others.
  • Substance-induced psychosis: Hallucinations and delusions are the most common symptoms of drug or substance-induced psychosis, but individuals may also experience thinking disorders or negative symptoms. When diagnosing this disease, it is important to find out whether these symptoms existed before drug or alcohol use, or whether they occurred as a result of these symptoms.


The sudden onset of severe psychotic symptoms may be considered “acute” schizophrenia, but this is not always the case. Onset can occur at any time, but usually individuals are diagnosed between their teens and early thirties. It is very rare to make a diagnosis earlier or later in a person’s life.

This Manual of Diagnosis and Statistics of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental health disorders and diseases. It states that a person must exhibit two specific symptoms for more than six months to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

“As a disease that takes time to make a diagnosis, it may take several months to make a conclusive diagnosis from the first time a family notices a change in behavior or cognition,” said Dr. Greenberg . “However, it is important to make a diagnosis as soon as possible because there is evidence that early intervention can improve the longitudinal course of the disease.”

In order to make a formal diagnosis, medical professionals will assess “the medical history told by affected individuals and families, and [by] Assess the individual’s mental state,” Dr. Geisler said. He pointed out that it is impossible to make a diagnosis through blood tests or scans.


Schizophrenia is considered to be an incurable chronic disease. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with acute schizophrenia, there are a variety of treatment options that can minimize and control symptoms.


“Medication is the first-line treatment that I have seen that is really effective for patients,” said Dr. Johnson. “Drugs usually target the symptoms of schizophrenia… [but] Medications cannot’cure’ schizophrenia. ”

Drug options range from antipsychotics and adjuvant drugs to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and somatic drugs. Most commonly, people with active schizophrenia take antipsychotic drugs. Typically, medical professionals will work with individuals to determine the most effective medication at the lowest dose possible.

Antipsychotic drugs affect receptors in the brain that help control the signs and symptoms of active psychosis. There are two types of antipsychotic drugs:

  • Typical antipsychotic drugs, also known as first-generation antipsychotic drugs)
  • Atypical antipsychotics, or second-generation antipsychotics, often cause less serious side effects.

Regardless of the type of medication or side effects, research has shown that antipsychotic drugs can help control symptoms, prevent relapse, and ultimately improve the quality of life of an individual.

Individual and group psychotherapy

Although medications can benefit patients with acute schizophrenia, psychotherapy can also help patients diagnose, manage medications, and monitor changes in behavior and mood and actions.

Other treatment options include psychosocial therapy, social skills training (SST), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psycho-based therapy (MBT), and support groups that usually supplement medications or treatments.

take away

The treatment of schizophrenia is usually very expensive, but since it is one of the most debilitating mental illnesses, it is very important to work with professionals to develop the most effective and long-term treatment plan.


Since the symptoms of acute schizophrenia are usually sudden and severe, it is important to talk to a mental health professional as soon as possible.

The individual will not be diagnosed until the symptoms are reported for at least six months, so it is important to notify the professional immediately. If you are not sure where to start, you can talk to your doctor first and ask for a referral.

Dr. Geisler explained that one of the best ways to deal with the diagnosis of acute schizophrenia is to learn as much as possible through psychological education.

“This can help families understand what their loved ones are going through, and know best how to approach them and help support them in their efforts to obtain appropriate treatment,” said Dr. Geisler. “This can be best done by meeting with personal psychiatrists and other mental health experts.”

A word from Wilville

The symptoms of acute schizophrenia can be difficult and scary for individuals and loved ones, especially when they appear suddenly. The best thing you can do is to be patient, track your symptoms, and work with a reliable mental health professional to determine the best next step.