Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If your doctor or mental health provider believes you may have paranoid schizophrenia or another mental illness, he or she typically runs a series of medical and psychological tests and exams. These can help pinpoint a diagnosis, rule out other problems that could be causing your symptoms and check for any related complications.

These exams and tests generally include:

  • Physical exam. This may include measuring height and weight, checking vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure and temperature, listening to your heart and lungs, and examining your abdomen.
  • Laboratory tests. These may include a complete blood count (CBC), screening for alcohol and drugs, and a check of your thyroid function.
  • Psychological evaluation. A doctor or mental health provider will talk to you about your thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. He or she will ask about your symptoms, including when they started, how severe they are, how they affect your daily life and whether you've had similar episodes in the past. You'll also discuss any thoughts you may have of suicide, self-harm or harming others. Your doctor may also want to talk to family or friends, if possible.

Diagnostic criteria for paranoid schizophrenia

To be diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, you must meet the symptom criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

Diagnostic criteria for paranoid schizophrenia include:

  • A preoccupation with one or more delusions
  • Frequent auditory hallucinations

It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose paranoid schizophrenia, especially because other conditions may have similar symptoms. Be sure to stick with it, though, so that you can get appropriate treatment.

Dec. 16, 2010