Schizophrenia and its symptoms effect an individuals thought processes, behaviors and perceptions of reality. Someone with schizophrenia may display a variety of symptoms including but, not limited to hallucinations, delusions, anger and/or hours of “paralyzed” movement. Many schizophrenics are highly functioning individuals who work in full time employment, maintain a household and are socially active. It is often difficult to diagnose schizophrenia due to the varying degree of symptoms. The onset of schizophrenia often occurs between the ages of 17-21 and will often be initially misdiagnosed. There are five subtypes of schizophrenia: Catatonic, Disorganized, Paranoid, Residual and Undifferentiated. Each subtype will present with its own predominate and significant characteristics.
Catatonic schizophrenia is sometimes referred to as waxy flexibility and is characterized by the persons extreme impairment of movement. The person with catatonic schizophrenia will often hold a contorted body position, including facial contortions, for extremely long periods of time. Someone displaying catatonic features will remain in a “fixed” position, regardless of how painful the position is. They will often refuse to allow someone else to move their limbs to a more comfortable position and when movement is allowed, they will remain in this position until, they again allow movement. Someone with catatonic schizophrenia may also mimic what those around them are saying or doing. A dramatic increase in body movement known as catatonic excitement may also occur.
As the name implies, the prevalent symptom of disorganized schizophrenia are disorganized thinking processes. When this person speaks, due to the disorganized thinking, their speech may be a group of disorganized and jumbled words, resulting in incomprehensible sentences. Someone with disorganized schizophrenia will often have difficulties performing daily routine tasks, such as brushing their teeth, showering and dressing. This individual may also have inappropriate emotional responses, for example he/she may laugh out-loud during a funeral.
The primary features of paranoid schizophrenia are auditory hallucinations and/or distinct delusional thoughts regarding a conspiracy or persecution. Those with paranoid schizophrenia often are highly functional in regards to their relationships as well as ability to work. The symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia are typically not exhibited until later in life; therefore, they have already achieved a successful level of functioning. It is not uncommon for someone with paranoid schizophrenia to avoid discussing their symptoms, they do not usually display unusual or odd behavior and have active social functioning. They will typically not discuss their hallucinations and delusions until the symptoms become to overwhelming to cope with or behavior becomes overbearing to the point of recognition by family, friends and they are forced to seek professional help. The delusions are often centered around a consistent theme. Examples of delusional thoughts may include, a fear of being watched by the government, aliens or that a well known person is influencing them. Someone with paranoid schizophrenia may become hostile or easily angered when the hallucinations and delusions become overwhelming.
Residual schizophrenia is generally diagnosed when, the person is no longer actively displaying schizophrenic symptoms. Hallucinations and delusions have significantly decreased generally as a result of following through with recommended treatments. They may continue to experience delusions and/or hallucinations, however, they have diminished significantly. Those who have a high functioning level prior to the onset of their symptoms, will typically have an improved outcome and have a greater ease in returning to their normal life functions.
Undifferentiated schizophrenia is diagnosed when the medical professional is unable to diagnose a specific type of schizophrenia. The person is displaying signs and symptoms of schizophrenia, however, the symptoms fluctuate between the various types of schizophrenia making it difficult to pinpoint the symptoms to a specific type of schizophrenia. The symptoms may also be consistent over a period of time, then change suddenly to the symptoms of a different classification. Therefore, a diagnosis of undifferentiated is used to describe diagnosis as schizophrenia with interchanging symptoms.
Psych Central: Bengston, Michael M.D., Types of Schizophrenia http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/types-of-schizophrenia/
Schizophrenia history: five types of schizophrenia http://www.schizophreniahistory.com/Types-of-Schizophrenia.html
Medicinet: Schizophrenia http://www.medicinenet.com/schizophrenia/article.htm