Difference between Bipolar and Schizophrenia / Educational

This is my basic understanding of Bipolar vs. Schizophrenia. Often both illnesses are misdiagnosed or confused with others. Manic Depression: My symptoms onset at age 15 I was having a period of high mania, impulsive behaviors, and then crashed into a depressive psychosis. This was mis-diagnosed as schizophrenia because of the severity of the psychosis. My mom had major depression, later evolved into manic depression after prescribed Prozac. My type of Bipolar cannot handle certain medications such as anti-depressants, we cant take stimulants which can also trigger mania, and we are supposed to avoid weed or other drugs. Right now I’m sober, clean, do not drink or do drugs. I’m taking Vistaril which helps for the Generalized Anxiety, and waiting to find a medication that works better than Abilify if I need to add one.

I struggle with bouts of depressive apathy to high mania, but not moody. I have pretty good control of my moods, and do not let myself get too depressed or too happy. It’s about self control and willpower.

Genetic, it runs in families. I inherited it from my mom who also has another genetic condition which involved gene duplication and nerve problems.

Suicide and promiscuity is also an issue with Bipolar. Schizophrenia, however, is more consistent. Schizophrenia is harder to control and combat. Some fixed beliefs a lot of people cannot overcome with just medication, and may need a psychotherapist to help them re-program their minds/thoughts.


IMO the difference between a thought disorder and a mood disorder: affect. If your energy is causing the shift in consciousness, it could be Bipolar or manic depression. However if your thoughts are constantly strange, it could be more of the Schizo or a type of muted behavior more common in schizophrenia.

There is also a possible factor that these disorders are on the same spectrum. Perhaps one evolved out of the other. Schizophrenia could be one spectrum of Bipolar and vise versa.

I still have trouble myself differing the two.


Every single one of my psychiatrists have a difficult time diagnosing me - Is it pure bipolar? or is it schizoaffective?

My current diagnosis is up in the air, again.

I believe in the Spectrum theory as well.


I was first diagnosed with bipolar II then schizophrenia. I get hypomania when I’m off meds, but I don’t when I’m on my APs. I think the spectrum theory is a probably correct. Some are pure sz, some are pure bipolar, myself and others are somewhere in-between.

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The hallucinations and paranoia of sz are connected to Dopamine, but the mood disorders - OCD, anxiety, and depression are connected to Serotonin. So am I hearing that pure bipolar might be a pure Serotonin malfunction?

The strange thing is that paranoia can be a part of the bipolar experience too - with or without mania or depression.

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I didn’t know that…

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I’ve long been a believer that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are opposite ends of the same spectrum. There’s just too much overlap in symptomatology for it to be just a coincidence. I’m sure years down the road in a later DSM, this will become the new way of looking at it. Even if it takes until after I’m dead. Many other things I predicted have come true years later, despite everyone calling me a crackpot for them and then conveniently forgetting they did when it does get proven.


Yes, you are thinking like a scientist at Yale: http://medicine.yale.edu/news/article.aspx?id=11696

The article is about one scientific method for reconfiguring diagnoses of psychosis. They do entirely different observation and testing to reflect different biomarkers of psychosis instead of DSM criteria of the current sz, sza, or bipolar diagnoses.


You heard it here first. (Kinda, I wasn’t here 5 years ago, but I said it before you linked that article. lol) I was saying this half a decade ago. Now people with actual money and technology are parroting me. :stuck_out_tongue:

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You did say it before I linked the article :smiley:

What I should have written: Yes, scientists at Yale are thinking like you

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I was trying to more do the whole “you heard it here, folks!” Though I kinda couldn’t because I’m still fairly new here. lol

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An interesting article from 2006.


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My psychiatric nurse says that the difference between schizophrenic and bipolar paranoia is a matter of degree.
That’s as the current thinking is anyway.

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I must have Schizoaffective disorder, because my paranoia can get pretty intense! :smile:

I am currently diagnosed as both Paranoid Schizophrenic and Manic Depressive Bi Polar…I also have been diagnosed with a separate Manic Depressive disorder and ADD as well as Dissociative Personality Disorder…though to be honest I haven’t looke that one up to see what it means yet…I am kinda scared to…

There’s a strong element of subjectivity to the assigning of diagnoses. It can come down to what the pdoc sees as being a best fit. In the past I have had schizophrenia and schizoaffective dxes and had a pdoc say it is more likely to be bipolar than schizophrenia. Then they settled on paranoid PD. The actual symptoms I’m listed as having with possible corresponding dxes in brackets - anxiety(general,social etc) depression( bipolar,major depression,dysthymia,psychotic depression,schizoaffective) mood swings( bipolar,cyclothymia,schizoaffective,borderline pd) and paranoid thinking(paranoid pd, schizophrenia,schizoaffective,bipolar,borderline etc)

Right now I am going through some stress and depression, so I hope I don’t become manic later on. It’s hard when the insurance denies medication. I started medicaid and they won’t approve either generic or brand name Abilify even at 10mgs. The Rite Aid has been supportive, my psychiatrist was supportive, it was the insurance company that wasn’t helping much. My dad almost accidentally committed me thinking they would refill the prescription.

In my disability application I explained how my original diagnosis was paranoid schizophrenia, but now through therapy and medication it is called bipolar because I am not having the same symptoms all the time.

Maybe it’s better just to think of the two mental disorders as similar or on a spectrum. Bipolar is much more widely accepted, but I think they’re basically the same illness in a different shade. Dopamine and Saratonin, it’s not that cut and dry. Some people with schizophrenia think you have too little dopamine and some think you have too much. Abilify affects saratonin more than other anti-psychotics.

My mom started out depressed first. I started out manic and then depressed, then psychotic for a brief time. Truth be told, the more you work on recovery the better you will be no matter what the label,

My dad said not to pay attention to labels, and that it doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s an illness like any other and needs treated to function.