A schizophrenia screening is a mental health evaluation conducted to see if a patient has schizophrenia or a related mental health condition. People usually receive screenings after being referred by another medical practitioner or as a result of self referral. Schizophrenia commonly onsets in the teens or early 20s, when people are often undergoing major life changes in addition to developmental changes, and it can be a very disruptive condition. Screening provides access to diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms of schizophrenia can vary from patient to patient, but include things like a flat emotional affect, delusions, paranoia, disordered thinking, hallucinations, lack of motivation, and difficulty communicating. People with schizophrenia may not be diagnosed until they are in an advanced state of distress, as the symptoms may initially be attributed to stress or other factors. In some cases, people are only screened for schizophrenia after they enter dangerous situations as a result of their mental health conditions. These patients may be required to undergo schizophrenia screening before they can be released.
In a schizophrenia screening, a psychiatrist or other mental health professional meets with the patient, often several times. The patient is asked a number of questions and is also observed during sessions to pick up on diagnostic clues. In addition, the patient's history is scrutinized and friends and family may be asked questions about normal behaviors for the patient and any recent behavioral or physical changes that may have been observed.
The schizophrenia screening is conducted with care, as schizophrenia can sometimes mimic other mental health conditions, and vice versa. The mental health professional will generate a complete list of symptoms and a detailed mental health history and use this information to decide what condition the patient has and to evaluate the condition's severity. A wrong diagnosis can have serious implications, ranging from the administration of the wrong medications to social stigma associated with mental health conditions like schizophrenia.
At the conclusion of a schizophrenia screening, suggestions for treatment can be provided. Mental health conditions will persist for life and a long term treatment plan needs to be developed. In the case of schizophrenia, treatment can be challenging, as the patient may be experiencing delusions and hallucinations that make it difficult to trust or communicate with doctors. Medications are available for management of schizophrenia, and patients can also take advantage of psychotherapy and alternative treatment modalities to manage their conditions and process intense emotions and events.