Schizophrenia vs Bipolar Disorder: How to Get the Support You Need

Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are two chronic mental health conditions and can often be confused with each other. It is important to understand they have different diagnoses, and treatment is unique for each one, even with their similarities. There are some symptoms that may cause confusion, so itโ€™s vital to understand the difference between the two.

Schizophrenia causes more severe symptoms than bipolar disorder, and one of the first symptoms is social isolation with noticeable hallucinations or delusions. No one knows the cause of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, but both have genetic risk factors and tend to run in families. Your risk can increase when there are multiple family members who have it.

What is the Difference Between Schizophrenia vs Bipolar Disorder

Schizophrenia is often difficult to diagnose because symptoms can evolve and blend together. Bipolar disorder is much easier to identify since there are two distinct symptoms including manic state or depression. Bipolar disorder is more prevalent and affects as many people in the United States alone as schizophrenia does globally.

Bipolar disorder affects kids, adolescents, and adults and is equally distributed between males and females. Schizophrenia usually affects more males and is typically diagnosed in the later twenties or early thirties. It is very rare for children to be affected by schizophrenia.

Although these conditions can be managed with medications and people can live productive lives as they keep the symptoms under control, they are both life-long, incurable mental health conditions. There are many unique symptoms of schizophrenia, such as threatening hallucinations, a lack of any feelings, violent outbursts, and the inability to express emotions, which differentiate it from bipolar disorder.

Can You Have Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder?

There are certainly many symptoms that overlap, including a loss of interest in normal activities, altered sleep schedule, self-harm, or mood swings. Delusions and hallucinations can accompany both disorders but are usually more pronounced with a negative tone in someone with schizophrenia. Because of the cross-over symptoms, it may take some time to identify the correct diagnosis between the two. 

In rare cases, some people may be diagnosed with both

How and When to Get Help for These Conditions

Many people with bipolar disorder are on medications to control their mood swings. Psychotherapy is beneficial and can be done one-on-one or in group settings. Electroconvulsive therapy is used on occasion to alter the brainโ€™s chemistry by sending current through it, causing a seizure. 

For those diagnosed with schizophrenia, it is vital to get the psychosis under control with antipsychotic medication. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, or ECT may also be necessary to improve or control symptoms. Once symptoms are managed, it is important to provide support for activities of daily living, employment assistance, therapy to address social skills, and psychotherapy as needed. 

Families of individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder should be as involved as possible to support and provide extra assistance when needed. It is essential to stay away from drugs and alcohol, join a support group, and learn as much as possible about the disorder. Making good lifestyle choices like eating healthy, exercising, and getting plenty of rest can add to your success.

Learn all you can so that you can recognize if a family member is having any signs or symptoms of bipolar disorder vs. schizophrenia. It is important to reach out as soon as possible to provide treatment by professionals at Orange County Behavioral Health for these disorders. Call us today at 949-900-8426 or 877-467-2223 to provide the best care for you or your loved one.

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