Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
Did you know that there are different kinds of Schizophrenia? You may have heard of Paranoid Schizophrenia, but there is more than one type of condition. There are five different kinds of Schizophrenia: Catatonic, Disorganized, Paranoid, Residual, and Undifferentiated. People with Schizophrenia experience various symptoms, and it doesn’t always look the same for every individual.
What are the symptoms of Schizophrenia?
The symptoms of Schizophrenia vary from person to person. They’re included (but not limited to) the following:
- Hallucinations - when a person with Schizophrenia experiences psychosis, they will see or hear things that aren’t there. These are called hallucinations. Some people have auditory hallucinations, while others have visual ones. Some individuals experience both.
- Delusions - A delusion is when a person perceives something that directly conflicts with reality. For example, a person might believe they have superpowers or can control others’ minds. They may believe that someone can see them through the television, or others are out to get them.
- Disorganized speech - one symptom of Schizophrenia is disorganized speech. An individual may struggle to communicate coherently or string words together that don’t seem to make sense.
- Odd behavior - during psychosis, an individual with Schizophrenia may act in a way that appears strange. They could engage in repetitive behavior or become catatonic. The person may look as if they’re obsessively involved in one task, such as writing or note-taking for hours on end.
- Lack of outward emotion - A person with Schizophrenia may appear to have a flat affect, or seem emotionless.
People living with Schizophrenia experience psychosis. The main symptom of psychosis is a sense that things aren’t real. Some individuals can identify that they’re having a psychosis when it’s happening. They see the warning signs, and they can manage the state. Psychosis isn’t something that you can necessarily prevent by talk therapy. It’s a product of having Schizophrenia. The way to manage psychosis is by taking antipsychotic medications. That disrgulated feeling leads to other symptoms, such as paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. Here are some signs that psychosis may be coming on:
- Poor performance at school or work
- Social isolation or spending a lot of time alone
- Paranoia, or distrust of others
- Lack of self-care, or hygiene, such as showering or getting dressed
- Emotional numbness, or lack of feelings
These are signs that a person with Schizophrenia may be about to experience a psychotic episode. Some of these are also overlapping symptoms of depression. When you observe them in someone with Schizophrenia, it looks and feels different.
Is Schizophrenia a dangerous diagnosis?
Schizophrenia is a severe medical condition, but it’s not inherently dangerous. It’s essential to fight against this stigma. If anything, the stigma surrounding Schizophrenia is more dangerous than the condition itself. You can live with Schizophrenia and lead a healthy, productive life, including having a job and a family. Most individuals who have Schizophrenia are not violent, and more likely to be the victim of a crime rather than a perpetrator. Schizophrenia should not, however, go untreated. If the condition is not addressed, it can lead to severe depression, job loss, or inability to work, social isolation, homelessness, or suicide. That’s why it’s essential to get treatment for Schizophrenia as soon as you notice you have symptoms.
How is Schizophrenia diagnosed?
General physical examination - Before you see a mental health professional, seeing your regular doctor to determine if there are other medical conditions is crucial. They will ask questions and may take bloodwork to rule out any other complications. Your doctor will likely run particular tests or schedule an MRI or CT scan to see if there is another neurological condition.
Seeing a psychiatrist - The most accurate way to get a diagnosis with any mental health condition is by seeing a psychiatrist. They are experts in mental health and can give you the best diagnosis. A psychiatrist can diagnose Schizophrenia by checking you against a list of symptoms. They will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a part of the evaluation process to determine if an individual has Schizophrenia.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who is trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses and conditions. To screen for Schizophrenia, they will see a patient, observe their behavior, and ask them about their thoughts and current mood. Another aspect that the doctor will screen for is if the patient is using drugs or alcohol. A psychiatrist will determine if a patient is having delusions or hallucinations. The doctor will screen the individual for thoughts of self-harm or suicide. After the psychiatric evaluation, the doctor will make a determination.
What is Schizoaffective Disorder?
Schizoaffective Disorder is a condition that combines symptoms of Schizophrenia with those of depression or mania. Individuals with Schizoaffective Disorder can have hallucinations or delusions, coupled with a mood disorder. There are two types of Schizoaffective Disorder:
- Bipolar type - where the individual experiences symptoms of Schizophrenia along with mania, and potentially depression.
- Depressive type - where a person has symptoms of Schizophrenia coupled with symptoms of depression.
Schizoaffective Disorder differs from Schizophrenia in that the individual has to manage both mood swings and psychosis.
Schizophrenia is a complicated condition. The articles in this section can help you learn more about it. If you are living with it, they can help you find some resources to understand your condition better. If you have a loved one who lives with the condition, you can build your knowledge of Schizophrenia to be a part of their support network.