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How To Tell If Someone Is Bipolar Or Schizophrenic

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How To Tell If Someone Is Bipolar Or Schizophrenic

The Differences between Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia

Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia share several similar symptoms that make them very hard to distinguish. It is not uncommon to find bipolar disorder misdiagnosed as schizophrenia. Now the question is how to tell if someone is bipolar or schizophrenic? Answering this question is very important. Because when a wrong diagnosis happens, it can be very dangerous because it means the patient will not get the right treatment. Bipolar and schizophrenia can be very crippling and dangerous for the patient. That’s why, it is very important to completely understand about bipolar and schizophrenia. To answer that question, let’s find out more about these psychiatric disorders.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar or manic depressive is classified into mood disorder. The main characteristic of bipolar disorder is a symptom that resembles mood swings, or also often called bipolar episodes. However, unlike the ordinary mood swings, bipolar episodes are very extreme and each episode can last for days and even months.

In the manic episodes, the patient will feel extremely happy and energized. They will have a sudden courage to do things they don’t normally do, even though it may endanger their life. They will jump to start various new projects but finish none of them. Their energy level is so high that they don’t feel any need to sleep for days. In some cases, the patient will also experience hallucination and delusion.

But when the depressive episodes come, everything will be changed and there is nothing in between. The patient will fall into major depressive state where it is hard to even get out of bed. They will be disengaged with people, have no energy and in this episode, many patients are feeling suicidal as well. Hallucinations also often appear in depressive episodes.


Schizophrenia is categorized into psychotic disorder. The main symptom of this disorder is the inability to differentiate fantasy and reality in the form of hallucinations and delusions. Hallucination is feeling, seeing or hearing things that don’t really exist. Meanwhile, delusion is believing in things that are not real or true.

Because of those delusion and hallucination, people with schizophrenia rarely function well in society. They are disengaged with people and reality and sometimes they show symptoms of depression. They also don’t show any interest to things they usually enjoy.

Schizophrenia is very hard to treat. But it is not because there is no treatment available. Inability to tell fantasy and reality apart makes schizophrenia patient often abandon their therapy and medication. People also find it hard to connect and support the patients because of their delusion and hallucination.

Differences between Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia

Now let’s get back to our main question, how to tell if someone is bipolar or schizophrenic? From the explanations above, we can see some similarities between bipolar disorder and schizophrenic that make these disorders really hard to tell apart. First, it is the hallucination and delusion. Those symptoms appear in both disorders. The disengagement to society and inability to enjoy things they love the most which is shown by schizophrenic patient is similar with the depressive episode of bipolar. Even though there are some similarities, these disorders are very different. Here are some ways to distinguish them.

  1. Episodes

Manic and depressive episodes are only found in bipolar disorder. Even though manic actions and depression can also appear in schizophrenic patients, it doesn’t come in series of episode. It happens as a result of the hallucination and delusions as well as their inability to cope with the reality.

  1. Depressive Mood

Schizophrenic patients often show disengagement to society and shows disinterest to activities around them. At first glance it seems like symptoms of depression. But most of the time, it is not. Schizophrenia makes the patient feels disengaged but they are not actually sad or depressed like what bipolar patients with depressive episodes are feeling. Most of the time, schizophrenic patients only feel disinterested with what’s going on around them and it is not a sign of depression.

  1. Psychotic Symptoms

Sometimes, Bipolar patients experience hallucinations and delusion. However, these are not the main symptoms of bipolar. Just because someone is deluded or hallucinated, it doesn’t mean that they have bipolar. Hallucination and delusion happen as a result of the extremity of their manic and depressive episode. In the other hand, hallucination and delusion are the main symptoms of schizophrenia.

What You Need To Do

Even doctors need time and thorough examinations to make a diagnosis. As a non-medical expert there is no exact lesson on how to tell if someone is bipolar or schizophrenic. You need to pay careful attention and it is not something you can do in one or two days. So, to help you making the right decision, here are things you need to do when you think you or someone you know might supper from bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

  1. Don’t Self Diagnose

Both bipolar and schizophrenic are not easy battle to fight. To help the patient regain control to their life, they must be helped by the right medications and therapy. And they can only get those helps if they consult to a psychiatrist and receive proper diagnosis. Do not trust online psychiatry test you can easily find in the internet. If you see symptoms of bipolar or schizophrenia, immediate trip to the psychiatrist office is a must so the disorder can be managed.

  1. Avoid the Trigger

The psychosis and mood swings can be suppressed by therapy and medication. But they can also be triggered to come out. Observe yourself and find out what triggers your symptoms. Try to avoid those triggering events or activities until you are able to face them without shaking you up.

  1. Continue with the Therapy and Medication

Now that you know how to tell if someone is bipolar or schizophrenic, the next step is to make that person continue their treatment. Bipolar and schizophrenic cannot be cured, but they are manageable with the proper therapy and right medications. The patients will need lifetime treatment to manage their condition. It is not easy so you need to make sure that the patients will get every support they might need.

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