People with schizophrenia may hear voices that have no physical sources, these are called auditory hallucinations. Some even claim that other people are reading their mind; some may even say that other people are able to control their thoughts. Others are highly paranoid believing that others are plotting against them. Schizophrenia is the most disabling among major mental illnesses; it is a serious disorder in the brain leading the individual suffering from schizophrenia to have a distorted perception on how one feels and expresses emotions, thinks and acts.
The different types of schizophrenia will be discussed as follows and will be referred to as “subtypes”, note that the different subtypes of schizophrenia are used to categorise an individual suffering from schizophrenia regarding to the mot prominent and significant symptom and characteristic of the individual. Schizophrenia is a lifetime mental illness and at present has no cure, but can be managed if treated properly. Therefore, a person suffering from schizophrenia may be diagnosed with different subtypes over the progression of the illness.
Schizophrenia: Paranoid Subtype (AKA Paranoid Schizophrenia)
This is the most common subtype of schizophrenia; it is characterized by the major feature which is auditory hallucinations or delusional thoughts, whether persecutory or thoughts of conspiracy. Though people with this subtype are noted to be more functional regarding work and engaging and maintaining relationships, compared to the other subtype of schizophrenia. The symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia often manifest late-onset or later in the life of the individual.
Schizophrenia: Disorganized Subtype (AKA Disorganized Schizophrenia)
The main characteristic of this subtype is disorganized thought. The simple definition of disorganized thought is the inability to “think straight”. Hallucinations and delusions are less prominent, although there some who still manifest with hallucinations and delusions. Due to the disorganized thought process, individuals with this type of schizophrenia have a difficult time engaging and maintaining relationships, their activities of daily living show significant impairment. It can be so bad that even routine task like dressing, bathing, brushing teeth may be impaired at times even absent.
Schizophrenia: Catatonic Subtype (Catatonic Schizophrenia)
Catatonia is defined as a wide group of motor abnormalities, most involving extreme under- or over activity, occurring primarily in catatonic schizophrenia. Affected individuals may display either of two manifestations. One is called “catatonic stupor” wherein there is marked decline in motor activity or at intense moments a total absence of voluntary movements. The other is called “catatonic excitement” wherein the motor activity of the affected individual is increased dramatically. Other motor disturbances may also be present in this Catatonic Schizophrenia, “stereotypic behaviors” which is defined as repetitive nonfunctional (without purpose) motor behavior, such as hand waving, rocking, head-banging, or self-biting, which often appears to be driven and can result in self-inflicted injuries.
Schizophrenia: Undifferentiated Subtype (AKA Undifferentiated Schizophrenia)
The diagnosis of undifferentiated schizophrenia is made if the affected individual shows symptoms and characteristics that are not specific to fall into a category. The symptoms may vary and fluctuate during the progression of the illness resulting to the uncertainty of classifying into a specific subtype of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia: Residual Subtype (AKA Residual Schizophrenia)
This diagnosis is made when the affected individual is no longer manifesting with major symptoms of any of the types of schizophrenia. It does not mean that the symptoms are absent entirely but only lessened in severity. For example, hallucinations, delusions and other behavior associated with schizophrenia may still be present but symptoms are not as severe as compared to the acute phases of the different types of schizophrenia.
Different kinds of schizophrenias require different types of care and management, the impairment of the individual may vary from mild disturbances in activities of daily living, while others may suffer to the extent of requiring custodial care in mental health institutions. Knowing the right diagnosis is the frist step in managing schizophrenia properly and effectively.