What's the difference between schizophrenia and psychosis?

Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with psychosis because of hearing voices, but the doctor said I don’t have schizophrenia. However, when I’m not on meds, or when I’m on a low dose, I hear the insulting, threatening voices 24/7, every few seconds. They have never gone away on their own. I’m in psychosis all the time without meds.

Hmmm. I’m not 100% sure but having been initially diagnosed with psychosis, my psychiatrist at the time said that I would have to take meds for about a year and if I had no other episodes of psychosis then I’d be off meds and considered to have just had an episode of psychosis. He also mentioned if psychosis continued during the time I was taking meds then I might be diagnosed with schizophrenia. I had a hospital visit within six months of my first psychotic episode.

So it may just be a brief diagnosis. I was diagnosed with acute psychosis and then I was diagnosed with schizophrenia paranoia. The characteristics of psychosis are found in schizophrenia from my understanding, schizophrenia can have reoccurring psychosis if left untreated. Again I’m not 100% sure but that is more or less what I was told by a psychiatrist and my personal experience with having acute psychosis as a diagnosis. I hope that helps explain a bit.

I think it would be best if you consulted a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist to gain better understanding of what you might be experiencing and ways to treat it properly. Best of luck to you, Musicdance.


That’s a good question. :smiley:

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Almost everyone gets diagnosed with psychosis NOS, acute psychosis, or some variation at first. One of the criteria for schizophrenia is that symptoms must persist longer than six months. So in the beginning, nobody actually qualifies for schizophrenia. I would ask if your diagnosis has been updated. Nine years is a long time to still have psychosis. My doctor changed my diagnosis from psychosis NOS to schizophrenia after about a year, but never told me, so I didn’t find out until my counselor mentioned it like a year later.


Mine is psychosis NOS about 3 years, maybe more.
They aren’t secure about changing it.


Im not sure if even psychiatrists know. I dont think there is this strict divide, because it is not really an illness like cancer or diabetes, more a description of issues they see in someone. And which i guess can be caused by all sorts of things.

I have been diagnosed sz, sza, acute psychosis, psychosis nos and sz spectrum disorder, going back and forth.

They now say i have recurring psychosis, but not enough additional problems to be sz.


its been since 2016 for me, and when I tried off meds, I relapsed a few months later, I am also still a psychosis dx.

their reasoning is that I am on a low dose of antipsychotic currently. well it still affects me horrifically but yea,

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Thank you so much for your reply and explanation. Very helpful. I really appreciate it.

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In all due respect that doesn’t seem right.

I’ve never had psychosis on meds and I’m schizophrenic.

My talk on paranoia makes me so.

If I remember correctly, psychosis is a symptom or group of symptoms of schizophrenia. I was diagnosed psychosis NOS for a month or two, then I was diagnosed with schizophreniform, then a while later was diagnosed schizoaffective.

So psychosis can be caused by a few different thinks ranging from substance abuse, mood disorders, and even Parkinson’s.

Sometimes doctors will not diagnose something because of the stigma around being labeled. Psychosis NOS sounds a lot less scary than schizophrenia. I’ve found any time you add the word schizo to anything people freak out. I’ve become very open about my mental health, and still I usually say I have a psychotic disorder until I know them well enough to say schizoaffective. It goes over a lot better.


Ya. Like everybody else said there really isn’t a difference.

I was first diagnosed with adjustment disorder, then delusional disorder and then paranoid schizophrenia. My worst hospitalization the doc said I had psychotic disorder NOS.

My wife says I have delusional disorder with psychotic episodes. I think that could be correct if such a diagnosis existed.

I am definitely delusional but someone who is delusional and has other psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and negative symptoms on top of that is just quite simply schizophrenic. That’s the name for it. That’s what you call it.

But like @ninjastar said. It has to be at least 6 months in duration. Nine years is plenty long enough to be in the club.

The treatment is the same.


The schizophrenia diagnosis is withheld for people who don’t present in a violent, imminently dangerous manner. Usually.

Either that, or it’s given to those with persistent voices that don’t abate for a long time, like Ninjastar said.

It’s kind of an art form the way they diagnose this illness, to be honest.


Very informative. Thank you so much.

Psychosis is a symptom not a illness. Psychosis NOS is usually diagnosed in people who are first experiencing psychosis in the absence of other symptoms. I was initially diagnosed with psychosis NOS in 2010 when I first told a psychiatrist I was hearing voices and seeing things. Schizophrenia is diagnosed after symptoms are ongoing usually a month or more. And other symptoms of schizophrenia are present like disorganized speech, and flat affect. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2011.

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I would look into the dsm-5. It goes through what doctors use to diagnose and it was what had me diagnosed. I originally wasn’t though to have had schizophrenia because I only had delusions but because I also had disorganized speech we agreed it was schizophrenia

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I was first diagnosed with substance induced psychosis back in like 2011/2012. It took years (like 1.5 years) to get the real schizophrenia diagnosis. They said they usually reserve the diagnosis last because it’s a severe disease and something that stays with you for life. They tested my blood and stuff for thyroid issues and other things (like they’re supposed to do) and it eventually ended up with me being a paranoid schizophrenic…my parents cried when they found out. My dad used to be mean and abusive to me but changed a lot since I got sick.

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Tbh psychotic disorder sounds worse to me than saying schizoaffective.
People say “they were completely psychotic” and similar things all the time in a negative tone.

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It has been my experience that when ever someone hears schizo, regardless of what follows, they get scared. People have responded better to psychotic disorder. Psychotic sounds less threatening than schizo. I think it’s because psychosis can happen to anyone, where as only “crazy” people have schizophrenia/schizoaffective. I dont believe that of course, but about 90% of the time when I say I have a psychotic disorder I’m met with curiosity, where as when I say schizoaffective I’m met with fear. I’m very open about it to try and educate the masses about stigma.

This is just my experience.

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