Schizophrenia is one of those words that everybody uses but few people actually understand. Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that interrupts people’s natural flow of life and makes it nearly impossible for them to function normally. Those suffering from schizophrenia are incapable of separating reality from what they are imagining. They often hear voices, suffer from hallucinations, have strange or even paranoid delusions, and their thinking and speech have no rhyme or reason. Like most things, the different types of schizophrenia are not created equal and each comes with its own set of symptoms, frustrations, diagnosis, and treatment.
This is what most people typically think of when schizophrenia comes to mind. Paranoid schizophrenics are those who completely lose their understanding of reality and retreat to a place that they create within their mind. Paranoid schizophrenia leaves sufferers frustrated and confused because the major symptoms include delusions and hallucinations. This type of schizophrenia is a lifelong battle that requires constant evaluation and treatment changes in order to keep it under control.
While paranoid schizophrenics do not suffer many of the damage symptoms and effects of other types of schizophrenia, they do suffer (along with the delusions and hallucinations) from anxiety, anger, violence, are extremely prone to being argumentative and have a condescending manner. They may also have thoughts or suicide or suicidal tendencies. Paranoid schizophrenics, when medicated properly, can live happy and healthy lives. They do not suffer from some of the other symptoms such as thinking, problem solving, and concentration issues.
The main thing that sets this type of schizophrenia apart from other types is the presence of hallucinations. Of course, paranoid schizophrenic also implies the obvious; these schizophrenics often fear that people are out to get them. Thus, their condescending behavior; they feel a constant need to protect and defend themselves.
By “disorganized” the diagnosis means that the person’s thoughts, actions, speech, and behavior are completely disorganized, inappropriate, and senseless. This particular schizophrenic disorder is also often known as hebephrenic schizophrenia and is considered one of the most severe types of schizophrenia.
While those dealing with this type of schizophrenia are free of hallucinations and delusions, the disorder affects their minds in such a way that they are often unable to perform day to day tasks. Because their thoughts and abilities are so disorganized, even the simplest tasks such as bathing or making meals become overwhelming and frustrating. Only adding to the problem is the fact that it is usually very difficult to understand them when they speak. The constant need to repeat themselves and not being understood leads to frustration which often causes them to lash out in anger.
While it’s not very common, disorganized schizophrenics can suffer from hallucinations, but are more commonly characterized by the symptoms mentioned above as well as an absence of emotions or expression of emotions. They may make strange faces or use strange postures, they tend to be very uncoordinated, and often keep themselves isolated.
Thankfully, medical research has made it so that catatonic schizophrenia is extremely rare nowadays. This form of schizophrenia is really sad because there is little that can be done except to medicate and wait. Unlike other types of schizophrenia, the catatonic schizophrenic experiences “episodes” rather than constant symptoms. During these episodes, the person suffers from complete physical immobility; they cannot move or speak, they generally hold a blank stare and a rigid position. While experiencing all of this they may also experience a “catatonic stupor” where they are completely unaware of where they are or what is going on.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, others suffering from catatonic schizophrenia may experience uncontrollable mobility, rather than the complete lack of it. They begin to move around in a very strange and excited way; they may pace, spin, flail, or make random noises that make no sense and serve no purpose. Other symptoms include resistance to help of any kind. They will not follow instructions, show any kind of response, and may refuse to move or speak at all. Often times, you will notice very strange movements or expressions. They may suddenly grimace, twitch, or have a mechanical repetition to their movements.
The most difficult thing to fathom about catatonic schizophrenia is that while the person may seem blank and emotionless, they are often experiencing extreme panic and anxiety. They have no idea what is going on, have suddenly lost all control, and nobody can do anything to stop it. Catatonic episodes can last for up to a month, and even longer if treatment is not sought.
This is the diagnosis given when a patient is displaying clear signs of schizophrenia, but not enough symptoms that apply to one type or another. For these schizophrenics, their symptoms may jump around, constantly change, or they may display behaviors that are not often seen in schizophrenia. The first signs that lead to a diagnosis are a sudden change in behavior, loss of interest, social isolation, and severe idleness. These are especially looked at if the person has also had a previous psychotic episode.
Undifferentiated schizophrenia is obviously difficult to diagnose, and often the only thing to do is watch and wait for further symptoms to show up. It’s even more difficult if the person has not experienced any delusions or hallucinations and has never had any type of psychotic episode.
This particular diagnosis is given to patients who previously suffered major symptoms but are now experiencing significantly less. While they may still be hallucinating, paranoid, or have delusions, they are not as serious and are more easily overcome.
Schizophrenia affects everyone in different ways, so for some this diagnosis is a welcome relief, and for others, the damage has already been done.