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Diagnosing Schizophrenia

At the start of treatment, you may see a range of healthcare providers who will ask you a lot of questions. These questions will help your treatment team learn about you and what schizophrenia looks like for you. This information will help them recommend the most effective treatment.

To start, your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your medical history, mental health, and any unusual experiences you may have had, such as hearing voices or having confusing thoughts. You also will have a physical exam.

Your healthcare provider also may suggest tests to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. These tests may include blood tests and a CT scan or MRI. The CT scan or MRI will check the size, structure, and function of your brain.

If your healthcare provider thinks you are depressed or are thinking about suicide, a suicide assessment also may be done.

Schizophrenia is diagnosed when:

  • You have had at least 2 of the following symptoms and they have lasted for at least 1 month:

    • Hallucinations

    • Delusions

    • Disorganized speech, such as not making sense to others when you talk

    • Very disorganized or catatonic behavior, such as sitting or standing in unusual positions for a long time

    • Negative symptoms, such as having no emotion, not being able to feel pleasure, or having a hard time focusing

  • You have problems doing your job right or dealing with other people or problems in other areas of your social and work life.

  • You have had some of these symptoms for at least 6 months.

  • Your symptoms are not caused by other mental or physical health problems, a medicine you are taking, or substance abuse problems.

Do You Have Thoughts About Suicide?

If you or a loved one has thoughts about death or suicide, call 911 or the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) and press 1, or use other emergency services. Or you can chat with a trained counselor online at

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 3/1/2019
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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