Is it complicated to diagnose?
A diagnosis of schizophrenia is quite complicated. It requires a doctor, or it could be a mental health professional, to take a very detailed history from not only the person, but also from a family member or a carer or a friend. And in that taking of the history of the individual, the health professional is looking for the core symptoms and signs of schizophrenia.
Whether they have hallucinations or delusions, whether there has been a change of personality, whether there’s been withdrawal or whether there’s been a loss of the ability to describe things in a logical manner. So history is key.
How do you observe?
The second element is observation. A skilled mental health professional, or a psychologist or psychiatrist will look at the person’s mental state to see whether there are elements in the person’s presentation, the way they are actually conducting themselves, that indicate if there is the development of psychosis, which is a type of schizophrenia.
And then finally, the mental health professional will seek to get third-party history or evidence from someone who can tell what’s been going on, particularly if the individual is a late adolescent or early adult.
Unfortunately there is no test for schizophrenia yet and we are hopeful that that will emerge.
The diagnosis is based on the ability of the mental health professional to assess the individual’s history, assess their mental state and then pull it all together to make a diagnosis.
Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney