Symptoms of psychosis, such as those that occur in schizophreniaThey are particularly striking in the wide range of mental disorders: hallucinations or delusions fit perfectly into the idea of psychopathology that many people have.
The terms “psychosis” and “schizophrenia” are often used interchangeably. however, there are clear conceptual differences between them; in this article we will see what they are and clarify what their relationship is.
What is psychosis?
It is known as “psychosis” an a series of symptoms related to the loss of contact with reality. It is often associated with alterations in thinking and behavior, including verbal ones, which cause alterations in many areas of functioning.
The term began to be used in 1841 by the German psychiatrist Karl Friedrich Canstatt. It comes from Latin and can be translated as “alteration of the soul” or “of the spirit”. It initially included schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and has been used in opposition to the concept of “neurosis”, Which is still common today.
The experiences covered by the concept of psychosis are many and varied. Hallucinations, delusions, and catatonia (a state of psychogenic immobility) are three of the most characteristic psychotic manifestations, but they do not always occur in pathological settings; for example, hypnagogic hallucinations, which sometimes appear just before falling asleep, are formally equivalent to psychosis.
Psychotic symptoms can have very different causes. As in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or dementia, they are often the result of the conjunction of psychosocial stress with brain disorders, or with excessive consumption of certain substances and drugs, including alcohol and amphetamines.
On the other hand, psychotic disorders include schizophrenia, schizotypal personality disorder, schizoaffective, delusional, schizophreniform disorder, in short, catatonia and psychosis induced by disease and substance use.
Definition of schizophrenia
schizophrenia it is an alteration that is part of the group of psychotic disorders, Being the most representative and the best known among them. Its cardinal symptoms are psychotic, such as disorganization of thought or the presence of delusions and hallucinations.
It is a disorder that frequently generates social maladjustment and promotes the onset of depression, anxiety and drug addiction. In many cases, it occurs chronically and is managed by very strong antipsychotic drugs, frequently requiring internal intake.
Symptoms of schizophrenia are divided into positive and negative. Positive symptoms are linked to impaired mental functions, such as hallucinations, while negative symptoms are, among others, emotional, motivational or social deficits.
The DSM-IV manual divides schizophrenia into five types: paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated and residual. This classification is based on the predominant symptoms and the course of the disorder. DSM-5 eliminated the distinction between schizophrenia subtypes.
To diagnose schizophrenia, delusions, hallucinations, disorganized language, catatonia, or negative symptoms must have been reported continuously for at least 6 months. In addition, these symptoms must lead to personal, social or professional difficulties and they cannot be directly due to illness or drug use.
Differences between psychosis and schizophrenia
In short, it can be said that “psychosis” and “schizophrenia” are two closely related concepts, but schizophrenia is a mental disorder with specific diagnostic criteria while psychosis is a group of symptoms that can arise due to schizophrenia or for other reasons.
Below you will find 5 keys that will help you differentiate between psychosis and schizophrenia.
1. The 1 includes the other
Schizophrenia is a disorder that causes multiple symptoms, including those of the psychotic type, although they are not the only ones: for example, anxiety and depression are also very common against the background of schizophrenia.
For its part, psychosis includes schizophrenia if one understands the term “psychosis” as equivalent to “psychotic disorder”. This usually happens when we call this group of disorders “psychoses”.
2. Psychosis does not always imply schizophrenia
Psychotic-type experiences are relatively common in certain settings, such as the use of hallucinogenic substances or brain damage due to dementia. Thus, it is not necessary to meet the criteria for schizophrenia to be able to talk about the existence of a psychosis, especially if it is a brief episode.
3. The presence of psychopathology
When they arise as a result of schizophrenia or other more or less similar disorders, such as psychotic depression or schizoaffective disorder, psychotic symptoms are considered a key indicator of psychopathology. In affective disorder or dementia, psychotic symptoms are associated with an increase in severity or progression of the disorder.
However, psychotic symptoms they do not always imply greater severity: People diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which is characterized by hallucinations and delusions, have a better prognosis than those in which negative symptoms predominate.
4. Duration of symptoms
The duration of psychotic manifestations varies widely, from episodes of a few seconds or minutes induced by drug use to schizophrenia, which requires symptoms to be maintained for at least 6 months. At an intermediate point is the brief psychotic disorder, which lasts for up to one month.
5. Psychosis has multiple causes
While the brain disorders inherent in schizophrenia can cause psychotic experiences, these too they can be due to other psychological and biological causes. These include intense stress and fatigue, depression, brain damage, and the use of certain substances.