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Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia What You Need to Know

One out of every hundred people in the United States has schizophrenia; it is a devastating disease without a cure. But running away from schizophrenia only delays getting the help that is available.

Schizophrenia is a serious disorder which affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. Someone with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary; may be unresponsive or withdrawn; and may have difficulty expressing normal emotions in social situations.

Contrary to public perception, schizophrenia is not split personality or multiple personality. The vast majority of people with schizophrenia are not violent and do not pose a danger to others. Schizophrenia is not caused by childhood experiences, poor parenting or lack of willpower, nor are the symptoms identical for each person.

What causes Schizophrenia?

There is no single cause for schizophrenia. Rather, it is the result of a complex group of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. Genetically, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have much in common, in that the two disorders share a number of the same risk genes. However, the fact is that both illnesses also have some genetic factors that are unique. Environmentally, the risks of developing schizophrenia can even occur before birth. For example, the risk of schizophrenia is increased in individuals whose mother had one of certain infections during pregnancy. Difficult life circumstances during childhood, like the early loss of a parent, parental poverty, bullying, witnessing parental violence; emotional, sexual, or physical abuse; physical or emotional neglect; and insecure attachment have been associated with the development of this illness.

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

Paranoid schizophrenia
Disorganized schizophrenia
Catatonic schizophrenia
Undifferentiated schizophrenia
Residual schizophrenia

Paranoid Schizophrenia

Paranoid-type schizophrenia is characterized by delusions and auditory hallucinations but relatively normal intellectual functioning and expression of affect. The delusions can often be about being persecuted unfairly or being some other person who is famous. People with paranoid-type schizophrenia can exhibit anger, aloofness, anxiety, and argumentativeness.

Disorganized Schizophrenia

Disorganized-type schizophrenia is characterized by speech and behavior that are disorganized or difficult to understand, and flattening or inappropriate emotions. People with disorganized-type schizophrenia may laugh at the changing color of a traffic light or at something not closely related to what they are saying or doing. Their disorganized behavior may disrupt normal activities, such as showering, dressing, and preparing meals.

Catatonic Schizophrenia

Catatonic-type schizophrenia is characterized by disturbances of movement. People with catatonic-type schizophrenia may keep themselves completely immobile or move all over the place. They may not say anything for hours, or they may repeat anything you say or do senselessly. Either way, the behavior is putting these people at high risk because it impairs their ability to take care of themselves.

Undifferentiated Schizophrenia

Undifferentiated-type schizophrenia 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.

Residual Schizophrenia

Residual-type schizophrenia is characterized by a past history of at least one episode of schizophrenia, but the person currently has no positive symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behavior). It may represent a transition between a full-blown episode and complete remission, or it may continue for years without any further psychotic episodes.