Psychiatry Associates Blog

Understanding Schizophrenia Subtypes: The Distinguishing Factors

Thoughtful young man in the living roomThere are a lot of misconceptions surrounding schizophrenia.  Those who are unfamiliar with the condition often incorrectly believe its sufferers have split personalities or a tendency to be violent.  In reality, however, these individuals do not have secondary personalities and are more likely to be the victims of violence than its perpetrators.  Likewise, many believe that all cases of schizophrenia are largely the same, but each case has its own distinguishing factors.

In 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), eliminated commonly recognized subtypes, bringing them all under the single diagnosis of schizophrenia.  However, many mental health professionals continue to recognize predominant symptoms that align patients within one of the formerly existing categories and find usefulness in this classification for more specialized treatment.  In total, there are five distinct subtypes of schizophrenia that psychiatrists encounter:

Paranoid Schizophrenia Subtype

Paranoid schizophrenia is perhaps the most widely recognized throughout the general public.  As the name suggests, patients of this subtype have a tendency toward paranoia and unreasonable suspicion. They tend to be preoccupied by one or more delusions and may have auditory hallucinations. 

Disorganized (Hebephrenic) Schizophrenia Subtype

The predominant symptoms of this subtype is disorganization in both speech and mannerisms.  Conversation may be nonsensical, and they may have difficulty with appropriate behavior in social situations.  Additionally, these patients have what is commonly referred to as a flat affect, or very little emotional expressiveness.  Their tone and facial expressions may not change during interactions, and they often struggle with eye contact.

Catatonic Schizophrenia Subtype

This particularly subtype occurs far less frequently today than in years past.  Now, it is believed to be the result of schizophrenia that has gone untreated and been allowed to progress.  As detection and treatment of schizophrenia has improved, the number of individuals exhibiting symptoms of catatonic schizophrenia has decreased.  The primary symptom of this subtype is a drastic change in movement.  Patients either become rigid and largely immobile, or they move excessively and may imitate the movements of those around them.

Undifferentiated Schizophrenia Subtype

Patients considered to be suffering from undifferentiated schizophrenia do not have predominant symptoms that fit into one of the aforementioned categories.  Instead, they may experience a mix of symptoms without any one standing out above the rest.  These may include disorganization, changes in movement, and the presence of hallucinations.

Residual Schizophrenia Subtype

In the case of residual schizophrenia, patients are experiencing symptoms which may match with any of the predominant symptoms listed above.  However, these symptoms are less severe than in cases of acute schizophrenia. 

Hearing a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be frightening and confusing.  The condition may not look the way you expected based on your previous understanding of the illness and its symptoms.  However, understanding these five subtypes can give you a better grasp on the nature of the disease and what to expect moving forward. 

If you or a loved one are exhibiting signs of schizophrenia or have been previously diagnosed and need medical care, contact Psychiatry Associates of Baton RougeOur team of skilled psychiatrists are available to help patients gain control of their condition through specialized treatment plans that meet their specific needs.



Topics: Schizophrenia