Psychotic Disorder Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing & Treating Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia Test & Diagnosis

If you or a loved one shows signs of psychosis, visit your doctor right away for a physical exam and review of your medical history. If physical reasons for the behaviors are ruled out, your doctor will consult with a behavioral health professional. Getting help as soon as symptoms arise is important for children and adults alike. Intervening early can make recovery and symptom relief easier.

Before schizophrenia is diagnosed, doctors need to find out if the symptoms are being caused by substance abuse, medication issues or other medical problems. Diagnosing schizophrenia may include:

  • Physical examination – Doctors look for physical problems that could be causing the symptoms and behaviors.
  • Psychiatric evaluation – During a psychiatric evaluation, behavioral health professionals ask about thoughts, moods, delusions, hallucinations, substance use, and risks for violence or suicide. This includes discussing personal and family history.
  • Using diagnostic criteria – Behavioral health professionals refer to the American Psychiatric Association’s guidelines for diagnosing schizophrenia.
  • Tests and screenings – Drug and alcohol screenings and other tests help rule out conditions with similar symptoms. Imaging tests like MRIs and CT scans may be recommended.

Schizophrenia Treatment Options

If you or a loved one need treatment for psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, Mercy can help. We provide treatment services, second opinions and options for inpatient and outpatient care. Medication and therapy are common treatments for psychotic disorders. 

Outpatient Schizophrenia Treatment Services

An important part of outpatient schizophrenia care involves reviewing the symptoms and social concerns caused by the disorder. This information is used to develop a complete treatment plan with outpatient services, including individual and group therapy as well as medication monitoring and management.

Therapy for Schizophrenia

Counseling or talk therapy for psychotic disorders may include individual or family sessions and support groups. Most therapy is on an outpatient basis, but in severe cases where safety is a concern, hospitalization may be needed.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) - CBT’s goal-oriented approach is effective in treating schizophrenia when combined with counseling. The methods used in CBT help people develop coping strategies for symptoms that don’t respond to medicine.
  • Supportive therapy - This type of therapy helps with understanding experiences and supporting life with schizophrenia. It focuses on the present and helping those diagnosed with schizophrenia improve their day-to-day functioning.
  • Cognitive enhancement therapy (CET) - CET helps people with schizophrenia understand their triggers and learn to improve their memory, attention, social awareness and other cognitive skills.

Complementary Health Approaches

Integrative health therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, healing touch, massage and nutrition can also be part of treatment plans. For example, omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have shown promise for treating and managing schizophrenia.

At Mercy, we believe proper diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions help people with schizophrenia live better lives. Mercy primary care providers and behavioral health professionals work closely together to coordinate care. We provide consultations, second opinions and a variety of options for ongoing treatment of psychotic disorders.