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What Is the True Difference Between Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder?

What makes schizophrenia different from bipolar disorder?

Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are among the most challenging mental illnesses to battle. Often going undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, these two mental illnesses can cause chaos and struggle in the lives of those it affects. If you are experiencing schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, it is important to seek treatment immediately. 

If you believe you have one of these mental illnesses, understanding the difference between the two can help you make important treatment decisions. Having the proper diagnosis for any mental illness could make the difference between coping with your symptoms and managing them properly.

The first step is to always talk to your doctor about how you are feeling and your symptoms. This way, they can direct you toward a psychiatrist who can help diagnose you properly. A psychiatrist is there to specifically treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, along with other mental illnesses.

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is classified as a serious and severe mental illness by the National Institute of Mental Health. This mental illness is defined as affecting how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought disorder
  • Movement disorder
  • Difficulty functioning normally
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Loss of motivation to deal with everyday life
  • Need to withdraw from social activities or society
  • Cognitive symptoms such as losing focus or not paying attention
  • Being unable to take directions and apply them to a task in a timely manner

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder involves changes in mood, behavior, and energy levels. It can also affect concentration and functioning on day-to-day tasks. This disorder includes extreme highs and extreme lows. Those who experience bipolar disorder often have manic episodes.

Manic episodes are defined as the person having enough energy to feel they are on top of the world. This can bring on hospitalization, and it could take up to a week until a manic episode is over. Consequently, however, bipolar disorder clients also experience extreme lows that could classify them as being major depressive. 

These depression symptoms could also last a week or more and lead to hospitalization. Having both mania and depressive symptoms could occur at the same time and become mixed. This leads to some people feeling restless, irritable, or energized but sad.

There are three types of bipolar disorder. The first and most severe form, bipolar I, includes symptoms of mania and depression. The second is bipolar II which includes a lesser version of mania symptoms called hypomania. The last form is a cyclothymic disorder that includes the same symptoms as bipolar I and II. However, these symptoms do not last long enough to qualify as manic or depressive episodes.

The Difference Between Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

The main difference between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is the extreme highs and lows. While these two mental illnesses certainly share many common symptoms, it is important to recognize the difference. The extreme highs and lows one experiences during bipolar disorder differ from someone experiencing schizophrenia.

In those experiencing schizophrenia, many find there are fewer mood changes. Another big difference between the two is hallucinations and delusions. Often occurring in those with schizophrenia, hallucinations and delusions don’t always occur in bipolar II patients. 

Doctors and psychiatrists, when treating their clients, often look at the symptoms of both illnesses. They then assess which categories are suitable for your situation and diagnose from there. It is important to recognize that if you are experiencing any mental health symptoms, to get proper treatment.

Usually diagnosed between the ages of 16-30, those with schizophrenia who went untreated experienced a worsening of symptoms. The same can be said for those with bipolar. Treatment of symptoms is vital to any neurological and psychotic illness.

Benefits of Treatment for Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

Psychotherapy and psychiatry are the two most traditional methods of managing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Talk therapy helps one to learn how to cope and manage the stress that comes with a mental health disorder. Therapists can provide a proper treatment plan and help their clients overcome some of their most difficult symptoms.

A psychiatrist is there to diagnose a person’s illness and manage their medication. They will help them overcome the challenges of managing medication while also talking to them about their symptoms and how they are feeling. Often, psychiatry and psychotherapy work in tandem, and doctors and therapists often communicate with one another. This ensures everyone is on the same page regarding their client’s treatment plan.

Experiencing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is a tough battle. However, no one is alone in the fight. Understanding that anyone can be helped, even with their most severe symptoms, can make life a little easier in the long term. There is help, and there is hope for those experiencing mental illness.

Are you struggling with your mental health but don’t know where to turn? Do you feel your symptoms are becoming hard to manage? Do you need help from a professional? The team here at Acera Health is ready to help you face your mental health issues. We have professional counselors and curated programs designed to be suitable for your specific needs. Our clients have turned to us for various mental health reasons, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. We can help you gain the proper diagnosis and plan. Please give us a call to learn more about our residential and outpatient programs. Call Acera Health at (949) 647-4090 to learn more and get the help you deserve. 


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