There are four types of schizophrenia and they all affect the sufferer in a different way. Knowing these differences will help you understand this mental disorder better.
Going through life with the burden of mental illness on your shoulder is hard enough when you suffer from something that’s easy to pinpoint. But when we’re talking about schizophrenia, things get complicated. Still, understanding the disorder and different types of schizophrenia is an important step towards active healing.
Schizophrenia is one of the most serious mental illnesses one could possibly experience during their lifetime. It affects the way you act, think and perceive things. It can even distort your perception of reality, throwing you in the midst of a cruel worldview where nothing makes sense. Simply put, it’s a handful and then some for anyone who has to go through it.
It is still unclear what the disorder is caused or triggered by. While some studies suggest it’s hereditary, there is plenty of other research pointing towards biological factors or even external ones such as autoimmune diseases and infections. Thus, there is still a lot we don’t know about what lies beneath the surface.
This makes identifying problems of this nature even more complicated. The usual symptoms of schizophrenia include increased apathy, weird motor reactions, speech impediments, and even seeing and hearing people and things who aren’t really there. But getting properly diagnosed takes time, which makes the experience even more grueling to undergo.
The 4 Most Common Types of Schizophrenia
It’s safe to conclude at this point that schizophrenia is a complex disease. Living with schizophrenia isn’t easy, but understanding more about the disorder and its many ramifications can help you deal with your own issues or help a loved one who is struggling. Here is some valuable information about the four most common types of schizophrenia to get you started.
1. Paranoid Schizophrenia
Paranoid schizophrenia is the most common manifestation of the disorder. According to the International Classification of Diseases, its most prominent symptom is constituted by hallucinations and delusions. Due to the paranoid aspect, these usually consist of unusual feelings of being watched, followed or even hunted down.
Unlike the other common types, paranoid schizophrenia can also develop at a later age, while the others usually start to show in early childhood. This was the case of Nobel prize laureate mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr., whose struggle with this particular illness has been documented in the biographic film A Beautiful Mind.
2. Catatonic Schizophrenia
Although it’s rarer than other types of schizophrenia, catatonic behavior is still widely exhibited by schizophrenics, as well as people who suffer from other mental conditions, such as depression or bipolar disorder. Catatonia implies falling into behavioral extremes, much like manic and depressive episodes.
These patterns won’t make sense at first. On the one hand, people who suffer from it will exhibit sudden and peculiar motor behaviors. This is known as catatonic excitement. On the other hand, there is what is generally understood through the term, namely decreased activity and engagement with one’s surroundings. While in this state, patients generally don’t speak or move.
3. Disorganized Schizophrenia
Also known as hebephrenic schizophrenia or hebephrenia, this category is characterized by unintentionally disorganized behavioral patterns among patients. This leads to a difficulty in communicating with those around you because they cannot follow your train of thought. Furthermore, once it advances it can impede speech and motion in patients.
Reality distortion in the form of delusions and hallucinations soon appears as well. Hebephrenia develops between the ages of 15 and 25, which makes it common among teenagers and young adults in particular. In fact, its name literally means ‘adolescence’ in Greek, being a derivate of Hebe, daughter of Hera and goddess of youth.
4. Undifferentiated Schizophrenia
When a patient exhibits mixed symptoms pertaining to more than one type of disorder, he or she is usually diagnosed with undifferentiated schizophrenia. For example, one might suffer from disorganized behavior coupled with paranoid delusions, which means that neither diagnosis is completely accurate. Thus, their condition is undifferentiated.
Naturally, to fit into this category, you need to exhibit at least two relevant symptoms, but the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders mentions that one might be enough as well. This type of diagnosis is perhaps the most delicate one, so it’s up to your psychiatrist to decide.
Although there are is a lot of common ground between them, these four previously discussed types of schizophrenia have their own significant traits. Understanding which one you’re dealing with, be it directly or indirectly, is essential if you want to take appropriate action in the future either for your own sake or that of a loved one.
Seeking appropriate treatment is the most important step you can take towards recovery. But getting it means that you need to process the matters at hand and deal with them accordingly. This kind of reflection leads to a greater degree of self-discovery, which is another crucial part of healing. By knowing yourself, you will also know what ails you.
Still, you need to remember that ‘healing’ is a loose term in this scenario. As it was the case with John Nash, schizophrenia and its delusions don’t really go away, you just learn to live with them and figure out they’re not real. Superior self-control comes from a profound state of complete acknowledgment, which is why you need to know what you’re dealing with first.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Moore is a psychology enthusiast specializing in schizophrenia and its manifestations. You’ll usually find him contributing to www.schizlife.com, where he’s disproving myths and promoting understanding about mental health issues.