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Schizotypal vs. Schizophrenia: How Are They Different?


While most people think of schizophrenia when they hear the word schizotypal, you’ll find there are plenty of differences when comparing schizotypal vs. schizophrenia disorder. Most people are somewhat familiar with schizophrenia and common symptoms like delusions and hallucinations. Schizotypal personality disorder (SPD) is another similar disorder. It’s so similar, in fact, that it can be difficult to differentiate the two in the diagnosis and treatment process. Due to the many dangers of misdiagnosed mental disorders, we’re sharing a guide on schizotypal disorder vs. schizophrenia to determine their differences and help you recognize the signs.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder Symptoms & DSM-5 Criteria

Schizotypal personality disorder is a mental health disorder marked by symptoms like odd behavior, speech patterns, thoughts, and perceptions. People with schizotypal personality disorder are often described as odd and eccentric because of their symptoms. They may dress, speak, or act in ways that are outside of societal norms and not fully understand how relationships are formed or the impact of their actions on others.

Individuals with schizotypal disorder may also suffer from paranoia and suspicion. A primary feature of schizotypal personality disorder is social skill deficit or difficulty socializing and connecting with others. However, these struggles and distorted thinking aren’t the only symptoms that encompass what schizotypal personality disorder is.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), signs and symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder include:1

  • Lack of close friends or intimates other than first-degree relatives
  • Unusual thoughts, beliefs, or mannerisms
  • Distorted perceptions, such as sensing the presence of someone who isn’t there
  • Superstitious beliefs or belief in special powers like telepathy, clairvoyance, or the “sixth sense”
  • Paranoia and constant doubts about the loyalty of others
  • Odd thinking and speech (vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, overelaborate, or stereotyped)
  • Improper interpretation of events
  • Excessive social anxiety that does not diminish with familiarity and tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than self negative judgments

Social withdrawal, difficulty forming and maintaining relationships, and dressing in strange ways are some other common schizotypal personality disorder signs. Many people with schizotypal disorder also suffer from depression and memory problems.

While the direct causes of schizotypal personality disorder are unknown, the disorder is believed to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There also seems to be a link between schizotypal personality disorder and schizophrenia, and people with a family history of schizophrenia are believed to be at higher risk of developing schizotypal personality disorder.

DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health disorder marked by abnormal interpretations of reality. Well-known symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking and behavior that impairs the individual’s day-to-day function. Considering the similarities between schizophrenia and schizotypal personality disorder, it’s understandable why many people either haven’t heard of the latter or confuse them often.

Schizophrenia symptoms may include a range of problems with cognition (thinking), behavior, and emotional stability. According to the DSM-5, a person may be diagnosed with schizophrenia if they show two or more of the following symptoms for a significant portion of a month:2

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech (frequent derailment from the topic or incoherence)
  • Disorganized and catatonic behavior (inability to move normally)
  • Below-average performance in areas like work, school, interpersonal relationships, or self-care

Other characteristics of schizophrenia include:

  • Disorganized speech
  • Odd or atypical behavior
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulties processing information

Schizotypal personality disorder, schizophrenia causes are unclear. It appears that this condition is genetic, meaning that people with close relatives diagnosed with schizophrenia are more likely to have it. However, some other possible causes of schizophrenia outside of genetic predisposition include:

  • Being raised in a stressful home environment, such as growing up in poverty
  • Disruptions to brain function and chemistry before or after birth (could result from substance use during pregnancy)
  • Exposure to viruses or nutritional deficits before birth

If you or a loved one has shown any signs of schizophrenia or schizotypal personality disorder, our residential mental health program in Boca utilizes various one-on-one and group therapy modalities to help patients understand their disorders and teach them how to manage their symptoms.

Schizotypal vs. Schizophrenia: What’s the Difference?

As similar as they may seem, you’ll find that there are a lot of differences when comparing schizotypal personality disorder vs. schizophrenia. The main difference between schizotypal personality disorder and schizophrenia is that schizotypal is a personality disorder while schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder. While personality disorders involve unhealthy thought and behavioral patterns that impact everyday life, psychotic disorders are characterized by psychosis, which may result from schizophrenia, a health condition, medications, or drug use.

Additionally, people with schizotypal personality disorder don’t usually experience delusions and hallucinations, and if they do, they’re not as intense or frequent as those experienced by people with schizophrenia. People with schizotypal personality disorder are also more open to the idea that their ideas and perceptions are distorted, while people with schizophrenia are not.

Help for Psychotic and Personality Disorders

Schizophrenia and SPD are similar in many ways, the same forms of treatment may be used for both. With that said, our mental health program in Boca Raton includes schizophrenia and psychotic disorders treatment to help people with SPD and other related disorders learn how to manage their symptoms.

We understand how difficult these conditions can be to operate without help. They can take over a person’s life and make the simplest of tasks nearly impossible, but you don’t have to do it alone.

For more information about schizophrenia treatment and other programs offered at Banyan Mental Health, call us today at 888-280-4763.

  1. NCBI - A diagnostic classification version of Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire using diagnostic classification models
  2. NCBI - Impact of the DSM-IV to DSM-5 Changes on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health [Internet].

Related Reading: 

Myths About Schizophrenia

The Different Types of Schizophrenia

How Schizophrenia Was Portrayed in A Beautiful Mind
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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