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The 6 Subtypes of Schizophrenia

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  • Each person with schizophrenia falls under a subtype of schizophrenia defined by a unique indicator. This indicator may be one dominant symptom only or a combination of positive and negative symptoms

Each person with schizophrenia falls under a subtype of schizophrenia defined by a unique indicator. This indicator may be one dominant symptom only or a combination of positive and negative symptoms.

For example, schizoaffective disorder exhibits schizophrenia alongside another mental disorder. Undifferentiated schizophrenia can be thought of as "general" schizophrenia, as it doesn't display any one dominant symptom. Below are the different types of schizophrenia and their characteristics.

1. Paranoid Schizophrenia — Paranoid schizophrenia is the most common subtype of schizophrenia, and is largely defined by the presence of auditory hallucinations or delusional thoughts "about persecution or conspiracy."1

In other words, you may think that you're being chased by an unseen group for a crime you think you committed, but those thoughts are not  based in reality. Persons with paranoid schizophrenia are diagnosed late into their illness because they often look normal to other people.

2. Disorganized Schizophrenia — The main indicator for this type is a confused thought process.2 Your ability to maintain logical thinking is largely affected, for example, you may jump from one subject to another during a conversation. Another indicator is disorganized behavior, wherein you may exhibit actions that are very much out of place depending on the situation, such as wearing multiple layers of clothing on a hot day.

3. Catatonic Schizophrenia — There are two types of catatonic behavior that define this schizophrenia subtype:3

Catatonic stupor — A dramatic reduction in activity, to the point where all sorts of movement may stop. Waxy flexibility may develop as well, a condition where someone places you in a certain position and you become immobilized for a long time.4

Catatonic excitement — Characterized by hyperactivity and the presence of stereotypic behavior, this is a condition in which you may perform repetitive but purposeless actions. You may also mimic what another person is saying (echolalia) or doing (echopraxia).5

4. Residual Schizophrenia — This subtype only refers to those who have had a history of schizophrenia before, and the severity of negative symptoms has reduced drastically.6 You may still suffer from symptoms like hallucinations or paranoia, but they appear less frequently. To fall under this subtype, at least one negative symptom must still be apparent and your last schizophrenia attack must have occurred at least a year ago.

5. Schizoaffective Disorder — Schizoaffective disorder is a mixture of schizophrenia and either depression or bipolar disorder. This type of schizophrenia is typically hard to diagnose due to the myriad of symptoms that accompany these mental illnesses.7 Depression is marked by prolonged feelings of sadness and worthlessness, as well as cognitive problems relating to concentration and memory.8

Bipolar disorder causes shifts in mood— One moment you may feel elated, and then you suddenly feel low, often to the point of sadness. The cycle between high and low emotions may become so intense that they begin to interfere with your daily life, relationships and work or academic performance. The two tables below indicate the symptoms for the mental disorders that may coexist with schizophrenia.9,10

Depression Symptoms

  • Poor appetite
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Troubles with thinking or concentration
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Agitation
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or favorite activities
  • Guilt or self-blame
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Bipolar Mania (High) Bipolar Depression (Low)
Euphoria or irritability Depressed mood and low-self esteem
Increased energy and activity Low energy levels and apathy
Excessive talk or racing thoughts Sadness, loneliness, helplessness and guilt
Inflated self-esteem Slow speech, fatigue and poor coordination
Unusual energy, plus a lowered need for sleep Insomnia or oversleeping
Impulsiveness Suicidal thoughts and feelings
Reckless pursuit of gratification Poor concentration

6. Undifferentiated Schizophrenia — When you exhibit a mixture of schizophrenia symptoms but do not fall into a specific type or have a dominant symptom, you may be diagnosed with undifferentiated schizophrenia.11,12

Typically, you must meet two symptoms, such as hallucinations and disorganized behavior to fall under this subtype, but the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) mentions that you may only need to exhibit one symptom.13


Schizophrenia: Introduction

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia Types

Schizophrenia in Children

Schizophrenia Causes

Is Schizophrenia Hereditary?

Schizophrenia Symptoms

Schizophrenia Diagnosis

Schizophrenia Treatment

Famous People With Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia Prevention

Living With Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia FAQ

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