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Schizophrenic disorders comprise a spectrum of very serious mental illnesses that must be addressed by qualified healthcare professionals. Because substance abuse is so common in schizophrenia and because such abuse is associated with an increased risk of violent behavior, it’s essential that drug or substance abuse problems be addressed simultaneously in cases where abuse is suspected.
Many schizophrenia patients will be examined initially by a primary care physician—a family practice physician or internist. In some cases, a concerned family member or friend may express concerns and enquire about the patient’s behavior before scheduling an appointment on the patient’s behalf.
Primary care physicians are likely to refer the patient to a mental health professional—ultimately a consultation with a psychiatrist will be required to establish a definitive diagnosis. Clinical psychologists and other mental health professionals (neurologists, etc.) may also occasionally become involved in a patient’s treatment.
Written by: Dale Kiefer
Medically reviewed : Jennifer Monti, MD, MPH
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