In Clearbrook Treatment Centers Massachusetts, Mental Health

Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder in which an individual interprets reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may cause a combination of symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior. These symptoms are often severe enough to impair the individual’s daily functioning. This disorder occurs in various stages, one of them being the acute or active phase. Our Massachusetts treatment center is sharing the acute schizophrenia definition and how to recognize it.

What Is Acute Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia occurs in three stages: “prodromal,” “acute,” and “residual.” Acute schizophrenia is the phase in which a person displays obvious signs of the disorder, such as hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thoughts and behavior. Schizophrenia is associated with psychosis, which causes significant changes in a person’s perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors.

Also known as the “active” phase, the acute phase of schizophrenia is the phase of the disorder in which the individual displays the most obvious signs. This may also be considered the most intense phase of schizophrenia. However, despite being the most obvious display of the disorder, research suggests that by the time a person reaches the active phase of schizophrenia, they may have been showing prodromal symptoms (the first phase) for approximately two years.1

For this reason, it’s important to be mindful of the signs of acute schizophrenia. It’s also important to avoid playing into stereotypes about schizophrenia, as the disorder is often wrongfully displayed in movies and TV shows.

Acute (Active) Phase Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia symptoms will differ based on the phase of the disorder the individual is in. Common symptoms of acute schizophrenia include:

  • Exaggerated or distorted perceptions, beliefs, or behaviors
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Loss or decrease in the ability to speak or express emotions
  • Loss or decrease in the ability to find or experience pleasure
  • Loss or decrease in the ability to make plans with others
  • Confused and disordered thinking and speech
  • Abnormal movements
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Lack of motivation

Schizophrenia is diagnosed when an individual is in the schizophrenia acute phase, as symptoms are most obvious during this stage of the disorder. Other people may also recognize symptoms like disordered thoughts and behavioral patterns, often for the first time. At this point, a doctor may work with the individual’s loved ones to understand when early symptoms began. Once a diagnosis is made, a doctor will be able to determine when the active phase is over based on the person’s behavior.

Acute vs .Chronic Schizophrenia

The main difference between acute and chronic schizophrenia is that the acute phase may occur briefly in an individual, which is otherwise referred to as a brief psychotic disorder. A person living with this condition typically develops schizophrenia symptoms that remain stable but last no longer than a month.

However, if acute schizophrenia symptoms persist for over a month, a doctor will typically change the diagnosis to schizophreniform disorder. If symptoms persist beyond 6 months, then the diagnosis will be chronic schizophrenia.

Mental Health Care at Clearbrook

While there is no cure for schizophrenia, professional mental health care can help an individual with schizophrenia take back control over their life and learn how to enjoy their day-to-day life despite their diagnosis. If you’re searching for support, our residential mental health care in Massachusetts allows patients to live onsite as they’re guided through their recovery by experienced and trained therapists.

In addition to mental health support, our facility also offers inpatient addiction treatment to aid in the long-term recovery and sobriety of those battling drug or alcohol use disorders.

For more information about our addiction services, contact Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621.



  1. NCBI – Early and broadly defined psychosis risk mental states


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