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Why do doctors use laboratory tests to diagnose schizophrenia?

Mark Moronell, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Doctors use laboratory tests to help diagnose schizophrenia for several reasons. Lab tests help doctors rule out recent drug and alcohol abuse, and some medical conditions which share symptoms with schizophrenia. A doctor can run a variety of blood tests, perform a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) scan, or test for alcohol and drugs. Substance abuse symptoms can mimic schizophrenia. People who abuse drugs and alcohol sometimes display odd and psychotic behaviors similar to those associated with schizophrenia. Also, many medical conditions share symptoms with schizophrenia. The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library lists the following medical and neurologic disorders that can cause symptoms similar to those found in people with schizophrenia:
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Seizure disorders
  • Kidney failure
  • Brain tumors
  • Vitamin deficiency

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