Schizophrenia – DSM5

Disclaimer: Use this information for reference only. Please do no self diagnose. You must see a doctor or a mental health professional to get proper diagnosis.



Diagnostic Criteria 295.90 (F20.9)

A. Two (or more) of the following, each present for a significant portion of time during a 1 -month period (or less if successfully treated). At least one of these must be (1 ), (2), or (3):

1. Delusions.

2. Hallucinations.

3. Disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment or incoherence).

4. Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior.

5. Negative symptoms (i.e., diminished emotional expression or avolition).

B. For a significant portion of the time since the onset of the disturbance, level of functioning in one or more major areas, such as work, interpersonal relations, or self-care, is markedly below the level achieved prior to the onset (or when the onset is in childhood or adolescence, there is failure to achieve expected level of interpersonal, academic, or occupational functioning).

C. Continuous signs of the disturbance persist for at least 6 months. This 6-month period must include at least 1 month of symptoms (or less if successfully treated) that meet Criterion A (i.e., active-phase symptoms) and may include periods of prodromal or residual symptoms. During these prodromal or residual periods, the signs of the disturbance may be manifested by only negative symptoms or by two or more symptoms listed in Criterion A present in an attenuated form (e.g., odd beliefs, unusual perceptual experiences).

D. Schizoaffective disorder and depressive or bipolar disorder with psychotic features have been ruled out because either 1 ) no major depressive or manic episodes have occurred concurrently with the active-phase symptoms, or 2) if mood episodes have occurred during active-phase symptoms, they have been present for a minority of the total duration of the active and residual periods of the illness.E. The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition.

F. If there is a history of autism spectrum disorder or a communication disorder of childhood onset, the additional diagnosis of schizophrenia is made only if prominent delusions or hallucinations, in addition to the other required symptoms of schizophrenia, are also present for at least 1 month (or less if successfully treated).

Specify if:

The following course specifiers are only to be used after a 1-year duration of the disorder and if they are not in contradiction to the diagnostic course criteria.

First episode, currently in acute episode: First manifestation of the disorder meeting the defining diagnostic symptom and time criteria. An acute episode is a time period in which the symptom criteria are fulfilled.

First episode, currently in partial remission: Partial remission is a period of time during which an improvement after a previous episode is maintained and in which the defining criteria of the disorder are only partially fulfilled.

First episode, currently in full remission: Full remission is a period of time after a previous episode during which no disorder-specific symptoms are present.

Multiple episodes, currently in acute episode: Multiple episodes may be determined after a minimum of two episodes (i.e., after a first episode, a remission and a minimum of one relapse).

Multiple episodes, currently in partial remission

Multiple episodes, currently in full remission

Continuous: Symptoms fulfilling the diagnostic symptom criteria of the disorder are remaining for the majority of the illness course, with subthreshold symptom periods being very brief relative to the overall course.


Specify if:

With catatonia (refer to the criteria for catatonia associated with another mental disorder, pp. 119-120, for definition).Coding note: Use additional code 293.89 (F06.1) catatonia associated with schizophrenia to indicate the presence of the comorbid catatonia.

Specify current severity:

Severity is rated by a quantitative assessment of the primary symptoms of psychosis, including delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, abnormal psychomotor behavior, and negative symptoms. Each of these symptoms may be rated for its current severity (most severe in the last 7 days) on a 5-point scale ranging from 0 (not present) to 4 (present and severe). (See Clinician-Rated Dimensions of Psychosis Symptom Severity in the chapter “Assessment Measures.”)

Note: Diagnosis of schizophrenia can be made without using this severity specifier.

Diagnostic Features

The characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia involve a range of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional dysfunctions, but no single symptom is pathognomonic of the disorder. The diagnosis involves the recognition of a constellation of signs and symptoms associated with impaired occupational or social functioning. Individuals with the disorder will vary substantially on most features, as schizophrenia is a heterogeneous clinical syndrome.

At least two Criterion A symptoms must be present for a significant portion of time during a 1-month period or longer. At least one of these symptoms must be the clear presence of delusions (Criterion Al), hallucinations (Criterion A2), or disorganized speech (Criterion A3). Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior (Criterion A4) and negative symptoms (Criterion A5) may also be present. In those situations in which the active- phase symptoms remit within a month in response to treatment. Criterion A is still met if the clinician estimates that they would have persisted in the absence of treatment.

Schizophrenia involves impairment in one or more major areas of functioning (Criterion B). If the disturbance begins in childhood or adolescence, the expected level of function is not attained. Comparing the individual with unaffected siblings may be helpful. The dysfunction persists for a substantial period during the course of the disorder and does not appear to be a direct result of any single feature. Avolition (i.e., reduced drive to pursue goal-directed behavior; Criterion A5) is linked to the social dysfunction described under Criterion B. There is also strong evidence for a relationship between cognitive impairment (see the section “Associated Features Supporting Diagnosis” for this disorder) and functional impairment in individuals with schizophrenia.

Some signs of the disturbance must persist for a continuous period of at least 6 months (Criterion C). Pi;odromal symptoms often precede the active phase, and residual symptoms may follow it, characterized by mild or subthreshold forms of hallucinations or delusions. Individuals may express a variety of unusual or odd beliefs that are not of delusional proportions (e.g., ideas of reference or magical thinking); they may have unusual perceptual experiences (e.g., sensing the presence of an unseen person); their speech may be generally understandable but vague; and their behavior may be unusual but not grossly disorganized (e.g., mumbling in public). Negative symptoms are common in the prodromal and residual phases and can be severe. Individuals who had been socially active may become withdrawn from previous routines. Such behaviors are often the first sign of a disorder.

Mood symptoms and full mood episodes are common in schizophrenia and may be concurrent with active-phase symptomatology. However, as distinct from a psychotic mood disorder, a schizophrenia diagnosis requires the presence of delusions or hallucinations in the absence of mood episodes. In addition, mood episodes, taken in total, should be present for only a minority of the total duration of the active and residual periods of the illness.

In addition to the five symptom domain areas identified in the diagnostic criteria, the assessment of cognition, depression, and mania symptom domains is vital for making critically important distinctions between the various schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders.

Associated Features Supporting Diagnosis

Individuals with schizophrenia may display inappropriate affect (e.g., laughing in the absence of an appropriate stimulus); a dysphoric mood that can take the form of depression, anxiety, or anger; a disturbed sleep pattern (e.g., daytime sleeping and nighttime activity); and a lack of interest in eating or food refusal. Depersonalization, derealization, and somatic concerns may occur and sometimes reach delusional proportions. Anxiety and phobias are common. Cognitive deficits in schizophrenia are conrmion and are strongly linked to vocational and functional impairments. These deficits can include decrements in declarative memory, working memory, language function, and other executive functions, as well as slower processing speed. Abnormalities in sensory processing and inhibitory capacity, as well as reductions in attention, are also found. 

Some individuals with schizophrenia show social cognition deficits, including deficits in the ability to infer the intentions of other people (theory of mind), and may attend to and then intepret irrelevant events or stimuli as meaningful, perhaps leading to the generation of explanatory delusions. These impairments frequently persist during symptomatic remission.

Some individuals with psychosis may lack insight or awareness of their disorder (i.e., anosognosia). This lack of “‘insight” includes unawareness of symptoms of schizophrenia and may be present throughout the entire course of the illness. Unawareness of illness is typically a symptom of schizophrenia itself rather than a coping strategy. It is comparable to the lack of awareness of neurological deficits following brain damage, termed anosognosia. This symptom is the most common predictor of non-adherence to treatment, and it predicts higher relapse rates, increased number of involuntary treatments, poorer psychosocial functioning, aggression, and a poorer course of illness.

Hostility and aggression can be associated with schizophrenia, although spontaneous or random assault is uncommon. Aggression is more frequent for younger males and for individuals with a past history of violence, non-adherence with treatment, substance abuse, and impulsivity. It should be noted that the vast majority of persons with schizophrenia are not aggressive and are more frequently victimized than are individuals in the general population.

Currently, there are no radiological, laboratory, or psychometric tests for the disorder. Differences are evident in multiple brain regions between groups of healthy individual and persons with schizophrenia, including evidence from neuroimaging, neuropathological, and neurophysiological studies. 

Differences are also evident in cellular architecture, white matter connectivity, and gray matter volume in a variety of regions such as the pre- frontal and temporal cortices. Reduced overall brain volume has been observed, as well as increased brain volume reduction with age. Brain volume reductions with age are more pronounced in individuals with schizophrenia than in healthy individuals. Finally, individuals with schizophrenia appear to differ from individuals without the disorder in eye- tracking and electrophysiological indices.

Neurological soft signs common in individuals with schizophrenia include impairments in motor coordination, sensory integration, and motor sequencing of complex movements; left-right confusion; and disinhibition of associated movements. In addition, minor physical anomalies of the face and limbs may occur.


The lifetime prevalence of schizophrenia appears to be approximately 0.3%-0.7%, although there is reported variation by race/ethnicity, across countries, and by geographic origin for immigrants and children of immigrants. The sex ratio differs across samples and populations: for example, an emphasis on negative symptoms and longer duration of disorder (associated with poorer outcome) shows higher incidence rates for males, whereas definitions allowing for the inclusion of more mood symptoms and brief presentations (associated with better outcome) show equivalent risks for both sexes.

Development and Course

The psychotic features of schizophrenia typically emerge between the late teens and the mid-30s; onset prior to adolescence is rare. The peak age at onset for the first psychotic episode is in the early- to mid-20s for males and in the late-20s for females. The onset may be abrupt or insidious, but the majority of individuals manifest a slow and gradual development of a variety of clinically significant signs and symptoms. Half of these individuals complain of depressive symptoms. Earlier age at onset has traditionally been seen as a predictor of worse prognosis. However, the effect of age at onset is likely related to gender, with males having worse premorbid adjustment, lower educational achievement, more prominent negative symptoms and cognitive impairment, and in general a worse outcome. Impaired cognition is common, and alterations in cognition are present during development and precede the emergence of psychosis, taking the form of stable cognitive impairments during adulthood. Cognitive impairments may persist when other symptoms are in remission and contribute to the disability of the disease.

The predictors of course and outcome are largely unexplained, and course and outcome may not be reliably predicted. The course appears to be favorable in about 20% of those with schizophrenia, and a small number of individuals are reported to recover completely. However, most individuals with schizophrenia still require formal or informal daily living supports, and many remain chronically ill, with exacerbations and remissions of active symptoms, while others have a course of progressive deterioration.

Psychotic symptoms tend to diminish over the life course, perhaps in association with normal age-related declines in dopamine activity. Negative symptoms are more closely related to prognosis than are positive symptoms and tend to be the most persistent. Furthermore, cognitive deficits associated with the illness may not improve over the course of the illness.

The essential features of schizophrenia are the same in childhood, but it is more difficult to make the diagnosis. In children, delusions and hallucinations may be less elaborate than in adults, and visual hallucinations are more common and should be distinguished from normal fantasy play. Disorganized speech occurs in many disorders with childhood onset (e.g., autism spectrum disorder), as does disorganized behavior (e.g., attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder). These symptoms should not be attributed to schizophrenia without due consideration of the more common disorders of childhood. Childhood-onset cases tend to resemble poor-outcome adult cases, with gradual onset and prominent negative symptoms. Children who later receive the diagnosis of schizophrenia are more likely to have experienced nonspecific emotional-behavioral disturbances and psychopathology, intellectual and language alterations, and subtle motor delays.

Late-onset cases (i.e., onset after age 40 years) are overrepresented by females, who may have married. Often, the course is characterized by a predominance of psychotic symptoms with preservation of affect and social functioning. Such late-onset cases can still meet the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia, but it is not yet clear whether this is the same condition as schizophrenia diagnosed prior to mid-life (e.g., prior to age 55 years).


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the handbook used by health care professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. DSM contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. It provides a common language for clinicians to communicate about their patients and establishes consistent and reliable diagnoses that can be used in the research of mental disorders. It also provides a common language for researchers to study the criteria for potential future revisions and to aid in the development of medications and other interventions.