Is Schizophrenia like Bipolar Disorder?

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Both Schizophrenia and Bipolar are mental disorders and although there can be similarities between them they are two separate conditions.

It is disturbing that despite awareness campaigns about mental health issues, surveys have shown that many members of the general public are still unaware of the differences between Schizophrenia and Bipolar and often mistakenly believe they are the same thing. They are not.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder or manic depression as it is often called is a mental disorder characterised by extreme highs (episodes of mania) and extreme lows (episodes of depression). These mood swings are the defining feature of Bipolar.

When an individual is experiencing a manic episode they usually have bundles of energy, will often need very little sleep, they may speak faster and appear to think faster than other people and they could have unrealistic ideas about what they can achieve.

Once the manic episode is over the person with bipolar will tend to sink into a depressed state where they experience low moods, apathy and disinterest, they may sleep a lot, talk little and withdraw socially.

However, no two individuals will experience Bipolar in the same way and the symptoms and severity of the symptoms will vary significantly from person to person.
Fortunately, most people with Bipolar can function normally with appropriate medication and support.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is characterised by positive symptoms which include hallucinations and delusions as well as negative symptoms such as flattening of the emotions and speech. The type of symptoms and the way they are manifested will be different for each person. Consequently there are 5 sub categories of Schizophrenia.

Paranoid Schizophrenia – feelings of persecution
Disorganised Schizophrenia – disorders of speech and behaviour
Catatonic Schizophrenia – disorders of movement
Undifferentiated Schizophrenia – doesn’t clearly fit with any other sub type
Residual Schizophrenia – no more positive symptoms. This is the long term state of schizophrenia

So what can you expect with regard to symptoms? Hallucinations can be defined as seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, and smelling something that isn’t really there. As far as Schizophrenia is concerned, the most common type of hallucinations are auditory hallucinations. The individual might hear voices which can take the form of a single voice talking to them, often in a critical manner, or they may hear a running commentary or even conversations between two or more voices.

Delusions can be described as having a belief in something that isn’t real and sticking to that belief despite being shown evidence to the contrary. For example, the individual may have delusions of grandeur such as believing believe they are famous, are a secret spy, that they can fly, that they have special magical powers and so on. Or, they may have delusions of persecution where they think that family members, neighbours, aliens or the government are plotting against them, spying on them or following them.

Treatment for schizophrenia consists of anti-psychotic medication and some form of psychotherapy.  Anti-psychotic medication is generally very successful at treating psychosis but treating the so called negative symptoms can prove more challenging.

Fortunately around fifty percent of people diagnosed with schizophrenia will be able to function most of the time and will experience periods of remission. A quarter of people diagnosed will actually go on to make a full recovery; however, the remaining quarter will require long term help and treatment.

Interestingly, there is a growing amount of evidence that supplementing with Fish Oil that has a very high content of the Omega 3 fatty acid EPA helps to alleviate the symptoms of both Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia.

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  1. Debrac Sue Middleton
    Posted September 13, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I have an older sister who is suffering from being pipolar and schiphrenia, I think that is how you spell it. I take her to eat at least once a day to get her out of the house, which smells like cigarette smoke because she smokes constantly. She is all the time talking to someone and the profanity that comes out of her mouth, sometimes is to unbearable. My brothers and sisters don’t think I need to get her help, that it ought to be up to my mom, but she is in real poor health, and does not need the aggravation. They all changed there phone numbers so they would not have to listen to raving, and she calls me all hours of the day and night, and tells me things that I need to do. This morning she called telling me I need to go the redlight in town and paint the whold place red and then draw a circle and get out fast.
    she has not always been this way, she used to be a beautiful soul and eyes that sparkled, with a beautiful smile. right now I am the one who checks on her, and takes her places, even though we go in mom’s car once a month to pay bills. I feel like if they would visit her once in awhile instead of going by for five seconds to make there concious feel better. am i wrong on that. Please someone help me find answers in a way that I can help her if possible. The phyciatrist she was seeing a few years back, took her of her medicines and told her she did not need anything. She came home and did not take another one, she believes everyone else has the problems. My stres level is not good, for trying to help her and do for my mom, and that is a differnt story. Can anyone find me the answers I need.

  2. Tarra Dill
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink


    I think you’re right in all counts. My mother is both Bipolar and Schizophrenic. When I was younger, I didn’t want to talk to her, but now that I’m 23, I call her all the time. She really appreciates it, and like to know that someone loves her no matter her condition. I think its really important that you get her help. My mom is now stable on medications, and while she’ll never be the same, she’s pretty close. I hope this helps!

  3. sandra evens
    Posted October 11, 2010 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    I have bipolar that’s it. I have never had a problem with taking my medication once I was dignosed 10 years ago. I have raised my daughter since she was 3 months old by myslef and my son partime. Now my daughter has been dignosed with bipolar and she is 20. She goes on her medication and off. She keeps her appointments sometimes and sometimes she misses them. Her doctor has told her they would no longer see her. So, now she is off her medication and says she has another appointment lined up with a antoher doctor which is 2 weeks later. She still lives with me and when she is not taking her medication we all end up in a big fight. She steals money, clothes and what ever she can from me when she wants something. When ever I find out she has stolen from me I confront her and she always denies she did it. I look at her and tell her she is a liar and a thief. I am so tired of dealing with this crazy behavior of her’s. After time and time again this would make a sain person say anything. I have throwed her out of my house on three different occasions asking her to leave or I would be forced to remove her. I have tried talking to her I have tried tough love. After awhile she stops the lying and stealing from me. Times when asking her to leave she has gotten a job and paid for her apartment. I know of twice she did this other times she has just left for a week or so, and came back home. I would let her come back after several months thinking everything is going to be alright. And each time that I would let her come back home. Each time I would be thinking she has got to finish school. This is the dream of most parents to see their children finish school before they leave home. I am really concerned why she is stealing and lying so much. I have never experinced anything like this before. I do not know what to do!!!! It seems to be a behavior pattern for the past 4 years. I have asked her friends without her knowing it if she has stolen from them.They say no and laugh or look at me strange. I really think she steals from others also. Is this a physcological problem that she needs phychistry help? Is there medication that treats this disease or,is this just done out of meanest and disrepect? When she steal from me and lies I get so, angry with her I scare myself. I cannot take this erotic behavior that is driving me over the edge. Is there anyone out there that can give me some advise on how to help her? A CRY FOR HELP

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