Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is such a complex illness that diagnosis can be delayed
due to the confusing array of behaviors that characterize the condition.
However, because it is an illness that mostly strikes in the late teens
and early twenties, it is important to be informed of the symptoms of
this erratic and disturbing illness.
People who suffer from schizophrenia do not all display the same types
of symptoms. Not only do they vary from person to person, but they differ
for the same person over time. Often correct diagnosis and appropriate
treatment can be delayed for this reason. In some cases, symptoms come
on suddenly and are quite acutely. For these people, medical intervention
usually comes swiftly as the person is clearly ill. Such early intervention
in these cases makes for the best long term prognosis for the condition.
However, the onset of the illness may take a slow and insidious form.
Being harder to recognize as a disturbance of the mind and not just
a “teenage phase,” this type of onset pattern is usually
the hardest to treat, as diagnosis is delayed and lack of early intervention
may result in the person being ostracized by peers for exhibiting inappropriate
Common symptoms of schizophrenia include:
These involve bizarre beliefs not shared by those the sufferer associates
with and are unrelated to reality.
Involve sensory distortions such as hearing voices that aren’t
real, hearing the words of dead people known to the sufferer, or smelling
unusual and nonexistent odors.
Disorganized speech patterns
These include inability to keep to the one topic, going off on irrelevant
tangents during a conversation, using unintelligible words that make
perfect sense to the sufferer but not others.
Including pacing, agitation, catatonic immobility (where the sufferer
remains perfectly rigid for long periods of time), wearing inappropriate
clothing for both weather and social conditions, and ignoring personal
This includes a lack of emotional response to one’s environment;
flat, robotic speech with little change in facial expression; delayed
response in conversation, and loss of enjoyment in normal pleasurable
activities such as sex, socializing, and eating.
In addition, there are various types of schizophrenia:
Paranoid type is characterized by delusions of grandeur
(believing one is Napoleon) or a sense of persecution (“everyone
is involved in elaborate plot to get me.”) Hallucinations are
common, particularly in the form of voices. This type of schizophrenia
is marked by higher levels of functioning between episodes.
Disorganized type schizophrenia includes disorganized
speech and behavior patterns, and a degree of emotional immaturity.
This type is usually chronic in nature with few if any remissions.
Catatonic type schizophrenia includes periods of
involuntary immobility alternating with agitation, and a tendency
to imitate the bodily mannerisms of others. This type is comparatively
Residual type schizophrenia is characterized by
the presence of at least one schizophrenic episode but the sufferer
no longer displays acute symptoms, although the typical flat effect,
social withdrawal, and bizarre thoughts are still apparent.
Undifferentiated type schizophrenia is used to describe
several types of characteristic behaviors that are not effectively
described by any of the above categories.
Clearly schizophrenia is a serious and life-changing illness which
to date has defied attempts at a permanent cure. Increasingly sophisticated
drug regimes coupled with better education and earlier intervention
have improved life quality and life span for sufferers of this tragic
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