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Difference Between Schizophrenia and Psychosis

Schizophrenia and Psychosis are two popular terms associated with human mental health. Psychosis is a symptom of Schizophrenia, but it’s possible to have psychosis without schizophrenia. While it’s clear that both terms are associated, there’s a distinction between them. This piece will highlight the meaning, similarities and differences between Schizophrenia and Psychosis. 

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is popularly known as a mental health disorder and an example of a psychotic disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) revealed that the prevalence of schizophrenia cases in the United States is between 0.25 – 0.64%. 

There are three symptoms that confirm the occurence of schizophrenia in a person. First, the individual will experience psychotic or positive symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. Next, they may experience what’s called negative symptoms. The individual may be unmotivated to continue activities or conversations, show a decline in feeling of happiness, show lesser facial emotions and facial expressions, and display social withdrawal. 

Furthermore, this mental condition may affect the person’s cognitive ability. For instance, they may have difficulty concentrating and memory loss. 

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis refers to a mental condition where a person loses touch with reality. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 100,000 people are diagnosed with Psychosis each year. There are two main symptoms that confirm a person is suffering from Psychosis – hallucinations and delusions. 

Hallucinations refer to a situation when a person perceives (sees or hears) things that aren’t occurring outside their mind. For instance, they may hear voices when no other person is in the room. Delusions, on the other hand, refer to intense false beliefs that are only shared by the individual. For instance, a psychosis patient may fear a conspiracy that doesn’t exist. 

Possible Similarities Between Schizophrenia and Psychosis 

Schizophrenia is related to pyschosis. If a person is suffering from schizophrenia, they may experience psychotic episodes. During this period, they may experience different degrees of hallucinations and delusions. These are also called positive symptoms. 

If a schizophrenic person is suffering from psychotic symptoms, they may be treated with antipsychotic medications. These medications may be used to prevent a recurrence of past symptoms. 

Differences Between Schizophrenia and Psychosis

While a diagnosis of schizophrenia often comes with psychotic episodes, it’s possible for someone to suffer from psychosis without its underlying cause being related to schizophrenia. There are other symptoms associated with schizophrenia and the patient has to match a particular diagnostic criteria. 

Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that usually affects how a person behaves, thinks and feels. Most schizophrenic cases can be diagnosed after the first psychotic episode. On the other hand, psychosis is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

While mental health conditions are the most common causes of psychosis, they can appear on their own. They are usually caused by drug or alcohol abuse, ingestion of certain medication or sleep deprivation. 

Schizophrenia vs. Psychosis: Compairson Table


By now, it’s clear that schizophrenia and psychosis are different health conditions. Schizophrenia is a mental health condition with unique diagnostic features, while psychosis is a symptom associated with an underlying condition or may occur alone. It’s best to secure the expertise of a medical practitioner to give a clear diagnosis between both of them. 


Can you be psychotic without schizophrenia?

Yes, it’s possible to be psychotic without schizophrenia.  Other underlying conditions that can cause psychosis include severe depression, bipolar disorder, brain injury or trauma, etc. It’s also possible to be psychotic without any underlying condition. 

Can psychosis turn into schizophrenia?

There are several instances where psychosis turned into schizophrenia. People suffering from substance-induced psychosis may later transition to schizophrenia. 

What are the 3 stages of psychosis?

Psychosis affected humans in gradual stages. They include: early, acute and recovery stage. 

What can trigger psychosis?

Psychosis can be triggered by several things including prescribed medication, recreational drugs, trauma, alcohol and smoking.

How can you tell if someone is psychotic?

People suffering from psychosis usually experience delusions and hallucinations. 

Who is most prone to psychosis?

People who have family members suffering from a psychotic disorder are prone to psychosis. 

Can psychosis go away?

Psychosis does not have any quick cure or single treatment. However, its symptoms can be managed effectively with the right amount of care and support. Over the long term, a full recovery is possible. 

What is the most common mental illness causing psychosis?

The most common mental illnesses that cause psychosis are schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

What is the hardest mental illness to treat?

Borderline personality disorder is considered as the toughest mental illness to treat.

What is the most painful mental illness?

Borderline personality disorder is the most painful mental illness and causes the most distress to patients. 

What can mimic schizophrenia?

Mental health conditions such as schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, and schizophreniform disorder. 

What personality disorder is most linked to schizophrenia?

Bipolar disorder and schizotypal personality disorder are those which are most closely linked to schizophrenia. 

What mental illness is misdiagnosed as schizophrenia?

People suffering from bipolar disorder are often misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition with symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. 

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  1. This page, delineating the differences between two seemingly identical or near-identical concepts, is a terrific idea and offers the reader an important service. It desperately needs an editor, however. The disjointed phrasing and awkward syntax invites the reader to speculate that the conclusions contained within are equally flawed.

  2. Good article idea. Did not appreciate the preachy tone toward the end or the notion that schizophrenia is treated with drugs plus other stuff that might help. The claim that schizophrenia is incurable is ridiculous. Still, you made the distinction clear, and so… thank you.

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References :

[0]Psychosis vs. schizophrenia: Understanding the differences. (2023, May 23). Www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/psychosis-vs-schizophrenia#:~:text=Schizophrenia%20is%20a%20mental%20health

[1]Jones, H. (2022, October 6). Is Psychosis the Same As Schizophrenia? Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/psychosis-vs-schizophrenia-5095195

[2]What Is the Difference Between Psychosis and Schizophrenia? (n.d.). MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/difference_between_psychosis_and_schizophrenia/article.htm

[3]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEE0Yh9W24-schizophrenia/

[4]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MADnWOKq8Es-torn-pieces-of-paper-with-the-word-psychosis/

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