Schizophrenia

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, debilitating mental illness that affects about 1% of the population, corresponding to more than 2 million people in the United States alone. Other statistics about schizophrenia include that it affects men about one and a half times more commonly than women. It is one of the psychotic mental disorders and is characterized by symptoms of thought, behavior, and social problems.

The thought problems associated with schizophrenia are described as psychosis, in that the person’s thinking is completely out of touch with reality at times. For example, the sufferer may hear voices or see people that are in no way present or feel like bugs are crawling on their skin when there are none.

The individual with this disorder may also have disorganized speech, disorganized behavior, physically rigid or lax behavior (catatonia), significantly decreased behaviors or feelings, as well as delusions, which are ideas about themselves or others that have no basis in reality (for example, the individual might experience paranoia, in that he or she thinks others are plotting against them when they are not).

What Are The Types of Schizophrenia?

There are five types of schizophrenia, each based on the kind of symptoms the person has at the time of assessment:

  1. Paranoid Schizophrenia – The individual is preoccupied with one or more delusions or many auditory hallucinations but does not have symptoms of disorganized schizophrenia.
  2. Disorganized Schizophrenia – Prominent symptoms are disorganized speech and behavior, as well as flat or inappropriate affect. The person does not have enough symptoms to be characterized as suffering from catatonic schizophrenia.
  3. Catatonic Schizophrenia – The person with this type of schizophrenia primarily has at least two of the following symptoms: difficulty moving, resistance to moving, excessive movement, abnormal movements, and/or repeating what others say or do.
  4. Undifferentiated Schizophrenia – This is characterized by episodes of two or more of the following symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behavior, catatonic behavior or negative symptoms, but the individual does not qualify for a diagnosis of paranoid, disorganized, or catatonic type of schizophrenia.
  5. Residual Schizophrenia – While the full-blown characteristic positive symptoms of schizophrenia (those that involve an excess of normal behavior, such as delusions, paranoia, or heightened sensitivity) are absent, the sufferer has a less severe form of the disorder or has only negative symptoms (symptoms characterized by a decrease in function, such as withdrawal, disinterest, and not speaking).

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