The differences between schizophrenia and TBI

On Behalf of | Oct 15, 2022 | Serious injuries |

Most Connecticut residents have probably hit their heads at some point or another. Most of the time, head injuries aren’t too serious.

Other head injuries – classified as traumatic brain injuries – can cause severe personality changes and mental disorders. One of the most severe of which is TBI-related psychosis, and it can be misdiagnosed as schizophrenia.

What does TBI-related psychosis look like?

TBI-related psychosis can present in two different ways: delusional type psychosis or delusional type psychosis. Delusional-type psychosis presents as the patient being paranoid or feeling consistently targeted.

Patients suffering from delusional-type psychosis might believe that someone they know has been replaced by an imposter or that they’re being followed. Patients may have other, more positive symptoms as well.

Schizophrenia-type psychosis presents mainly as hallucinations alongside paranoid beliefs. These can range from mild to more extreme, but there’s one connection – TBI patients suffering from a psychosis of any kind due to their injury are more likely to have negative symptoms.

Telling the difference

In addition to having more negative symptoms with their psychosis, TBI patients will have differences in their MRI scans from someone who’s suffering from schizophrenia. An MRI will reveal damage to the frontal or temporal regions.

Primary psychosis – otherwise known as schizophrenia – presents differently on MRIs. Their MRI scans might present enlarged ventricles.

Diagnosing TBI-related psychosis

It can be hard to diagnose TBI-related psychosis. For many patients, symptoms might not occur until a year or more after the initial injury.

Most patients are likely to develop symptoms of psychosis within the first year, but there are records of psychosis appearing up to 20 years after the initial injury. If you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing psychosis related to a previous traumatic brain injury, it’s important to seek medical attention and documentation right away.