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Study finds schizophrenia patients often misdiagnosed

The side effects of schizophrenia treatments can be significant for patients in Georgia. Powerful antipsychotic medications can affect people’s overall psychological well-being as well as their physical bodies. Some are linked to weight gain while others are related to involuntary physical movements known as tardive dyskinesia. In fact, some of these side effects can be why it is so difficult for many people with schizophrenia to maintain medication regimens. Still, the benefits can outweigh the risks for people struggling with severe mental illness.

One recent study indicates that many people may receive a diagnosis or even treatment for schizophrenia when they do not actually have the disorder. Misdiagnoses of patients sent for further treatment for schizophrenia at one psychiatric clinic was so common in the study that over half the patients instead received a different diagnosis, especially anxiety or another mood disorder. One of the biggest problems, researchers found, was the misdiagnosis of severe mental illness by general practice physicians. In many cases, they made the diagnosis and even prescribed medication without seeking a second opinion from a specialist, such as a psychiatrist.

Doctors use five major symptoms to diagnose schizophrenia, including disorganized behavior, hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech and negative symptoms. Auditory hallucinations, where a person admits to “hearing voices,” are one of the most well-known symptoms of schizophrenia, but the phenomenon is not unique to the disorder. Researchers noted that many people are actually misdiagnosed because of a quick conclusion after a report of auditory hallucinations.

For patients who are misdiagnosed, the effects can be significant. Not only do they suffer from the side effects of ineffective and inappropriate treatments, but they also do not receive proper treatment for their actual illness. People who have suffered a worsened health condition due to a doctor error can consult with a medical malpractice attorney about their options to seek compensation.