Schizophrenia Types and Classification Changes

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Doctor discussing Types of Schizophrenia

Until 2013, schizophrenia diagnoses fell into one of five subtypes: catatonic, disorganized, paranoid, residual and undifferentiated. Leading mental health experts believed these subtypes were unhelpful and failed to provide scientific validity or reliability. Instead, we now categorize schizophrenia on a spectrum that includes all the previous subtypes as a group of related mental disorders with shared symptoms.

Subtypes of Schizophrenia and Their Classifications

Doctors categorize schizophrenia by a patient’s main symptom. For example, rather than the previous diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, a diagnosis of schizophrenia with paranoia conforms to the new spectrum, instead of the old classifications.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a group of mental disorders. People with schizophrenia often experience a reality different from a typical person. It causes a psychosis that changes the way a person thinks, feels and acts. It leaves them living in a reality which is unlike that experienced by people around them.

Symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations – seeing or hearing things that aren’t there; including objects, animals and voices
  • Delusions – beliefs that, while firmly held by the individual, are easily disproved
  • Disorganized speech – using words and phrases that don’t make sense to people around them
  • Strange behavior – odd or repetitive actions, such as walking in circles or sitting motionless for hours
  • Withdrawn and lifeless – loss of interest in daily life, emotionless

To be diagnosed with schizophrenia a person will exhibit at least two of these symptoms for a minimum of six months, and one of those must be hallucinations, delusions or disorganized speech. Symptoms may come and go over the six months but must be constantly present for a period of one month.

Schizophrenia with Paranoia

When the person’s delusions include believing others mean them harm, paranoia is included in the diagnosis. Paranoia can present a vast network of fears about other people’s intentions toward them, making it difficult to hold a job or run simple errands.

Schizophrenia with Catatonia

In addition to the symptoms of schizophrenia above, catatonia will compound the patient’s state with physical manifestations that range from a stupor to excessive agitation or repetitive movements.

If you, or someone you know, is dealing with any of the symptoms along the schizophrenia spectrum, seek help from a mental health professional. Psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) and licensed professional counselors (LPCs) all provide varying degrees or training and experience, only a psychiatrist is able to prescribe medication to treat schizophrenia and its symptoms.

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