Schizophreniform disorder, like schizophrenia, is a psychotic disorder that affects your behavior, how you express emotions, the way you communicate with others and how you perceive reality.
Introduced by Gabriel Lengfeldt in 1939, schizophreniform disorder was distinguished from schizophrenia due to better outcomes for those diagnosed with the former.
Unlike schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder is a temporary condition, lasting between 1 and 6 months, and may be caused by genetic, environmental, physical or psychological factors. 
Is there a cure for schizophreniform disorder?
Schizophreniform disorder is a short-term disorder which can be cured. Its symptoms are identical to those of schizophrenia, but the key difference is the duration of symptoms – schizophreniform disorder only lasts up to 6 months.
If symptoms abate before 6 months have passed, a patient is found to be in remission, and they are then closely supervised to check if symptoms return.
If symptoms persist for longer than 6 months, doctors typically provide a diagnosis for schizophrenia rather than schizophreniform disorder.
Can schizophreniform disorder be prevented?
To date, there is no known way of preventing or minimizing your risk of contracting schizophreniform disorder.
Receiving an early diagnosis gives you the best chance of assessing what treatment plan best suits your needs. This can help minimize disruption to your quality of life.
How is schizophreniform disorder diagnosed?
There are no lab tests that conclusively diagnose schizophreniform disorder. Blood tests, brain scans, and analysis of your and your family’s medical histories can be used to rule out other medical conditions.
If a doctor cannot find any reason for the symptoms, they may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, to have an assessment done. They typically use tailored questions to assess whether someone shows signs of a mental illness and can provide you with a diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder.
How is schizophreniform disorder treated?
Schizophreniform disorder can be treated with a broad range of pharmacotherapies and psychotherapies.
Once schizophreniform disorder has been diagnosed, your doctor will prescribe you with a treatment plan. The initial aim of treatment for schizophreniform disorder is to stabilize you, relieve your symptoms and enable you to feel as uninhibited by your condition as possible in everyday life.
The overarching goal of any effective treatment plan for schizophreniform disorder is to alleviate symptoms fully before 6 months pass. At this stage, you will be declared to be in remission. Whilst this is a positive outcome and it’s tempting to think you’ve been cured; it is essential you are monitored in this period for any returning psychotic symptoms.
Below we discuss pharmacotherapies and psychotherapies that can help cure schizophreniform disorder:
Antipsychotics are the frontline medications for the treatment of symptoms of schizophreniform disorder, such as hallucinations, delusions and disorganized thinking.
Antipsychotic medication may include:
- Risperidone (Risperdal®)
- Ziprasidone (Geodon®)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa®)
- Clozapine (Clozaril®)
- Paliperidone (Invega®)
- Asenahine (Saphris®)
- Lurasidone ((Latuda®)
- Iloperidone (Fanapt®)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel®)
If your symptoms resolve, you typically continue drug treatment for 12 months, gradually tapering off under supervision from a medical professional .
Psychotherapy is the other mainstay treatment for schizophreniform disorder. Various therapies are routinely deployed including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, and group therapies. 
The goal of psychotherapy is to help a patient understand and learn about their condition, set themselves goals, and manage symptoms related to schizophreniform disorder. 
CBT helps the patient recognize harmful behavior patterns related to their condition which they can then, through consultation with their therapist, replace with positive behaviors. CBT can help patients learn ‘real-world’ coping strategies and problem-solving skills. 
Family therapy can help families learn how to cope with a loved one suffering from schizophreniform disorder.
When a patient is found to be in remission after suffering from schizophreniform disorder, it is recommended they continue psychotherapy and continue to be monitored as the risk for depression and suicide is high in recovering patients. 
When should I see my healthcare provider?
Contact your healthcare provider as soon as you experience symptoms of schizophreniform disorder.
Furthermore, if friends, colleagues or family members have observed you’ve been behaving erratically, listen to their feedback and consult a doctor.
- Tamminga, C. (2023, April 18). Schizophreniform Disorder. MSD Manual Professional Edition. https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-gb/professional/psychiatric-disorders/schizophrenia-and-related-disorders/schizophreniform-disorder
- Jones, C., Hacker, D., Cormac, I., Meaden, A., & Irving, C. B. (2012). Cognitive behaviour therapy versus other psychosocial treatments for schizophrenia. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 4(4), CD008712. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD008712.pub2
- Hardan, A. Y., & Gilbert, A. (2009b). SCHIZOPHRENIA, PHOBIAS, AND OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER. In Schizophreniform Disorder. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-1-4160-3370-7.00048-1
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