Bipolar Disorder vs. Schizophrenia: Oft Confused Terminology

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Difference between Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia

A mental disorder follows a pattern of abnormal psychological and behavioral associated with distress and mental disability.

There are two models which are used to describe the causes of mental disorders. One is the diathesis-stress model and the other is the biopsychosocial model. According to the first one, mental illness results from genetic predisposition triggered by environmental stressors. The second one takes into consideration biological, psychological and social factors.

Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are two of the common mental disorders. People suffering from these conditions continue to be stigmatized even in modern society. It is important for communities to offer their help for assisting and reintegrating these individuals.

Bipolar Disorder


Bipolar disorder also known as manic depressive disorder and is a mental disorder which alternates various mood changes with episodes of depression. During the manic phases, the individual can have abnormal energy, cognition and mood levels. In severe cases, the person may be subject to hallucinations and delusions.

Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterized by abnormal thinking processes and abnormal emotional responsiveness. The individual has hallucinations, may be subject to paranoid delusions and cannot express himself in an organized manner.


During the depressive episodes of a bipolar illness, a person may experience a persistent feeling of sadness associated with loneliness, social isolation, guilt, anxiety, lack of motivation and suicidal intent. Psychotic features are present in severe cases of the disease.In the manic episodes, the individual has a great deal of energy artificially maintained by alcohol or drugs. He can be very irritable and respond aggressively to other people. Some are convinced that they have been chosen to perform a great mission and indulge in this delusion. Hypomanic episodes are a milder version of manic episodes when the individual experiences high levels of optimism, needs to speak and act out more, and tries to decrease the hours dedicated to their own sleep.

A person suffering from schizophrenia has auditory hallucinations. The sufferer will experience delusions of bizarre nature where they may feel persecuted for various reasons. Speech becomes incoherent and the sufferer loses the natural flow of thoughts easily. The individual practices self-isolation from society, suffers from a severe lack of motivation, and may also be subject to paranoia.


To treat bipolar disorder, mood stabilizers based on lithium and anticonvulsants are used such as Depakote, Tegretol, Lamictal, Seroquel, Zyprexa and Risperdal.

To treat schizophrenia, antipsychotic medication is used such as perphenazine, olanzapine, clozapine and risperidone. This gives better results in interaction with individual therapy.

Similarities and Differences

  • Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder alternating various mood changes with episodes of depression. Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterized by abnormal thinking processes and abnormal emotional responsiveness.
  • Bipolar symptoms include a persistent feeling of sadness, loneliness, guilt, anxiety, lack of motivation and suicidal intent in the depressive episodes; high energy, delusional behavior and irritability in the manic episodes. Schizophrenia symptoms are auditory hallucinations, incoherent speech and paranoia.
  • Mood stabilizers are used to treat bipolar. Antipsychotic medication is used to treat schizophrenia.

Which disorder is easier to manage effectively?
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia

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