Posted: 02/22/2016

Schizophrenia vs. Bipolar Disorder: A Narrowing Gap?

Schizophrenia_bipolar_disorder_concept

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is currently in its 5th edition, is widely used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental and mood disorders. However, some clinicians are concerned that the classification system used in the DSM-V does not accurately represent the dimensions of certain disorders, especially schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Schizophrenia is classified as a psychotic disorder and may have symptoms that include auditory or visual hallucinations, delusions, thought disorder, loss of interest in other people and daily activities, and an expressionless demeanor. Bipolar disorder is considered a mood disorder and may be characterized by manic and depressive episodes. Manic episodes can include high energy, going a long time without sleep, feelings of euphoria, irritability, and delusions of grandeur.

Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are frequently misdiagnosed as one another, in part due to the fact that these conditions can have similar symptoms. Manic episodes of bipolar disorder may include hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions of grandeur, which can also be positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia—including a flat affect, low energy, and social isolation—can also be symptoms of depressive episodes in bipolar disorder.


Risperdal Consta
Medicine for Schizophrenia and Bipolar

Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are sometimes even treated with the same medications. Several of the atypical antipsychotics, the medications commonly prescribed to treat schizophrenia, have also been approved by the FDA for the treatment of acute mania in bipolar disorder.

The similarities between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are more than just coincidence. One study published in Biological Psychiatry in 2013 found that individuals with schizophrenia and individuals with bipolar disorder shared abnormalities in at least two of the same neurotransmitter systems in the brain. A different genome-wide study found that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have a significant overlap (about 15%) in common inherited genetic variations. These genetic variations account for 17-28% of risk for mental illnesses.

The studies that compare schizophrenia and bipolar disorder suggest that the conditions should be reclassified in a way that takes into account their similarities rather than attempting to keep them in two distinct categories. Some healthcare professionals are already advocating to replace the term “schizophrenia” with “psychosis spectrum disorder” or a similar term that better reflects the dimensions of this complex disorder. The National Institutes of Health has also been working on a Research Domain Criteria project, which seeks to classify mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder based on their underlying causes.

By HelpRx Staff Writer

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