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Schizophrenic Disorders

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Schizophrenic Disorders

Of all the categories of mental illness, schizophrenia has been one that has intrigued mental health professionals the most. With so many diverse symptoms, it is a fascinating world of study. Let's take a closer look at this area of mental health below.

  • What is a schizophrenic disorder?
  • What do the symptoms of schizophrenic disorders look like?
  • What are the types of schizophrenic disorders?
  • What are causes of schizophrenic disorders?

Schizophrenic Disorders: Definition in Psychology

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder, sometimes called a brain disorder, typified by an abnormal interpretation of reality that affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves.

The age of onset of this disorder is usually in adolescence or early adulthood, with males tending to show symptoms earlier than their female counterparts. Initially thought to affect males and females roughly equally, newer research has consistently shown a slightly higher incident rate among males.

Positive and Negative Symptoms

Each type of schizophrenia is categorized by the nature of its symptoms which can be positive or negative.

Positive symptoms are seen as additions to the typical human experience, like seeing or hearing things that are not there.

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia take away from the human experience and express themselves as emotionlessness, physical slowing, or a withdrawal from the world.

Schizophrenic Disorders, visualization of a colorful mind, StudySmarter Face in profile opening to a colorful cloud, pixabay.com

Five Types of Schizophrenic Disorders

Schizophrenia can be broken into five types: paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated, and residual schizophrenia.

Paranoid Schizophrenia

Paranoid schizophrenia is characterized by strong delusional thoughts of persecution. It is the most common among the five types. People suffering from this type of disorder often feel like others are conspiring against them or trying to hurt them. They find relevance to support their beliefs in seemingly benign situations or interactions.

Due to these beliefs, those suffering from this type of schizophrenia can often choose to isolate themselves or refuse to go outside, further exacerbating their delusions of persecution.

Disorganized Schizophrenia

This type of schizophrenia, sometimes referred to as Hebephrenic schizophrenia, is typified by disorganized speech or behavior and inappropriate or erratic emotional expression.

Disorganized speech may manifest as:

  • Rapid and disjointed shifting in topics of conversation

  • Repetition of words in a mantra-like fashion

  • Regular use of invented nonsense words

  • Arbitrarily speaking in rhyme.

Disorganized behavior may present as:

  • Behavior that appears senseless or without purpose

  • Poor control of basic impulses

  • Emotional responses that appear erratic or inappropriate

  • A general decline in basic tasks like personal hygiene or dressing oneself.

Catatonic Schizophrenia

This type of schizophrenia is characterized by bizarre motor behavior. People who suffer from this type of disorder exhibit a striking reduction in motor behavior, at times interrupted by episodes of unpredictable hyperactivity.

Reduction in motor behavior can look like this:

  • Stupor or complete immobility for extended periods

  • Waxy flexibility, or allowing the body to be moved into and remain in new positions

  • Negativity, or absence of response to stimuli

  • Mutism, absence of verbal response

  • Rigid grimacing for extended periods

The catatonic type of schizophrenia is considered a rare form of schizophrenia, with new research suggesting that this form is a consequence of the schizophrenic condition going untreated. Early intervention can contribute to reducing later symptoms of this type.

Undifferentiated Schizophrenia

When patients exhibit two or more of the five defined subtypes of schizophrenia, they can be diagnosed with undifferentiated schizophrenia. Lately, this term has been considered outdated as our understanding of psychotic disorders progresses. Nonetheless, the subtypes are still used to classify a patient’s experiences and symptoms. In this subtype, a patient exhibits symptoms across multiple types of schizophrenia.

Residual Schizophrenia

In this type of disorder, the positive symptoms of schizophrenia are absent or significantly reduced. On the other hand, negative symptoms often remain. These patients most often have had a whole schizophrenic experience of pronounced symptoms but currently are only experiencing mild, mostly negative symptoms. Delusions and hallucinations are no longer present. Patients may experience mildly distorted thinking, lack of motivation and concentration, blunt affect, and slower motor behavior.

Schizophrenia Disorders, dominos cause and effect, StudySmarterWooden dominos representing cause and effect, pixabay.com

Bipolar Schizophrenic DisorderSome patients who present with certain personality disorders, like bipolar personality disorder, also exhibit symptoms of schizophrenic disorder. Although patients with bipolar disorder do not typically exhibit schizophrenic symptoms, the two conditions can co-exist, nonetheless.Although Borderline Schizophrenic Disorder is not an official diagnosis in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM5), the term is occasionally used to refer to someone who exhibits a few symptoms of schizophrenic disorder, but not enough to confirm a full diagnosis. It is also used when there is a comorbidity of Borderline Personality Disorder and Schizophrenic Disorder.

Causes of Schizophrenia

While the precise cause of schizophrenia is unknown, current research suggests that a combination of five main factors can make someone more likely to develop the condition.

Genetics and Schizophrenic Disorders

Genetic factors that contribute to schizophrenia are chromosomal variations, specific duplications or deletions of genetic material, and slight variations across many genes that work together. Strong evidence of familial clustering shows that a child of a parent with schizophrenia is ten times more likely to develop the disorder.

Chemical Changes in the Brain

Chemical changes in the brain can occur from accidental or repetitive exposure to certain toxins or drug and alcohol abuse.

Structural Changes in the Brain

Examples of structural changes in the brain include differences in the regions of the brain and how they connect and work together, such as the enlargement of the ventricles, reduced size of the medial temporal lobes, or a loss of cortical grey matter.

Trauma as a Cause for Schizophrenic Disorders

Significant and prolonged childhood trauma can lead to the development of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. Trauma can take the form of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, extreme poverty, or living in a conflict zone.

Complications in Pregnancy or Childbirth

Complications or infections during pregnancy, maternal health and nutrition, low birth weight, and lack of oxygen to the brain during delivery can develop marked mood disturbances or schizophrenia.

Schizophrenic Disorder Diagnosis

A formal diagnosis of schizophrenia is given when a patient experiences two or more of the following symptoms over one month. Also, there can be some level of disturbance persisting for six months or more.

  • Hallucinations, seeing or hearing things that are not there

  • Delusions, distorted or false beliefs

  • Disorganized or illogical speech or behavior

  • Stupor or catatonic state

  • A decline in basic tasks like personal hygiene

Schizophrenic Disorders, a doctor talking to a patient, StudySmarterIllustration of a doctor's office, flaticon.com

Schizophrenia is diagnosed after careful assessment by a mental health professional. There is no single hard and fast test to determine the condition. Doctors perform a medical exam, psychological assessment, and a complete family medical and psychological history. Mental health professionals may use a variety of tests and assessments to be sure that something else isn’t causing the symptoms. These can be blood and urine tests and brain imaging tests like brain scans and MRIs.

Schizophrenic Disorders - Key takeaways

  • The primary symptoms of schizophrenia are hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or behavior, a catatonic state, and a decline in basic life tasks.
  • The symptoms of schizophrenia can be grouped into two categories, positive or negative.
  • Patients must exhibit two or more symptoms over one month and at least six months of general disturbance to merit a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
  • There are five defined types of schizophrenia: paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated, and residual schizophrenia.
  • There are five defined causes of schizophrenia: genetics, structural changes in the brain, chemical changes in the brain, trauma, and complications during pregnancy or birth.

Frequently Asked Questions about Schizophrenic Disorders

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder, sometimes called a brain disorder, typified by an abnormal interpretation of reality that affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves. 

The five types of schizophrenia are paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated, and residual schizophrenia.

The five causes of schizophrenia are genetics, chemical changes in the brain, structural changes in the brain, trauma, and complications during pregnancy or childbirth. 

A formal diagnosis of schizophrenia is given when a patient experiences two or more symptoms over one month, with some level of disturbance persisting for six months or more.

Schizophrenia is the name of the group of disorders. Schizophrenic disorders refers to the five subtypes of schizophrenia. 

Final Schizophrenic Disorders Quiz

Question

What are the five types of schizophrenia?

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Paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated, residual. 

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What are the five causes of schizophrenia?

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Genetics, structural changes in the brain, chemical changes in the brain, trauma, and pregnancy or birth complications. 

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Which one is not a primary symptom of schizophrenia?

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Headaches

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Chromosomal variations, familial clustering, and duplications or deletions of genetic material are all examples of which cause of schizophrenia? 

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Genetic

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What can cause chemical changes in the brain that lead to schizophrenia?

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Exposure to toxins or drug and alcohol abuse.

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Enlargement of ventricles and reduction of gray matter and medial temporal lobes are all an example of which cause of schizophrenia?

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Structural changes in the brain.

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Low birth weight and poor maternal nutrition are examples of which cause of schizophrenia? 

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Pregnancy or birth complications

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What is the most common type of schizophrenia?

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Paranoid

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Stupor, waxy flexibility, and mutism are symptoms of which type of schizophrenia?

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Catatonic

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Which type of schizophrenia is considered to be the rarest?

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Catatonic

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Symptoms of schizophrenia are grouped into these two types.

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Positive or negative symptoms

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Which of the following is not a positive symptom of schizophrenia?

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Mutism

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Delusional thoughts of persecution is an example of which type of schizophrenia?

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Paranoid 

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This type of schizophrenia is also called hebephrenic schizophrenia.

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Disorganized 

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In this type of schizophrenia, the positive symptoms of schizophrenia are absent or significantly reduced.

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Residual schizophrenia 

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What are the 5 subtypes of schizophrenia?

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  • Paranoid
  • Catatonic
  • Undifferentiated
  • Disorganized
  • Residual

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How many subtypes of schizophrenia are there?

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There are 5 separate subtypes.

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The international prevalence of schizophrenia is around ___%

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1

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The average age of onset of schizophrenia is ___ in men and ____ in women. 

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18; 25

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What are the three main criteria (Criterion A) for the diagnosis of schizophrenia?

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1. Hallucinations

2. Delusions

3. Disorganized speech, or disorganized actions 

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The DSM V (Does? / Does NOT?) include the 5 subtypes of schizophrenia.

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Does NOT

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There (is? / is NOT?) a single genetic mutation that is associated with the development of schizophrenia?

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is NOT

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The paranoid schizophrenia subtype is primarily defined as?

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Patients are preoccupied with their delusion or hallucination which is normally persecutory in nature. 

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A bizarre delusion is?

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A delusion that is not theoretically possible (aliens chasing the patient) 

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A non-bizarre delusion is?

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A delusion that is theoretically possible (the neighbor is trying to poison the patient)

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The disorganized subtype of schizophrenia requires the patient to primarily have? 

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Disorganized speech, behavior, or flat affect.

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What is flat affect? 

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Flat affect is an inappropriate response to emotional situations. The patient has no response when they should be smiling or frowning. 

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The criteria for the catatonic subtype of schizophrenia (Does? / Does NOT?) include mutism. 

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Does

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Criterion B of schizophrenia highlights? 

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A loss in the patient's functional status. 

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The residual subtype of schizophrenia (has? / Does NOT have?) overt psychotic symptoms.

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Does NOT

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Some examples of neurotransmitters are: 

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Serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, GABA, glutamate, and endorphins.

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The main neurotransmitter that is affected in schizophrenia is thought to be ________ ? 

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Dopamine.

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Where is dopamine produced?

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Striatum nigra and ventral tegmentum.      

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In which disease are the dopaminergic neurons destroyed?

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Parkinson's disease. 

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Which dopamine pathways are studied in schizophrenia? 

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The mesolimbic and mesocortical pathways.

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The mesocortical pathway is responsible for _____ symptoms.

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Negative.

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The mesolimbic pathway is responsible for ______ symptoms. 

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Positive. 

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Most antipsychotic medications work as _____________.

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Dopamine antagonists. 

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Current antipsychotic medications work well for negative symptoms of schizophrenia. True or false? 

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False. 

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Which other neurotransmitter is postulated to play a significant role in schizophrenia? 

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Glutamate via NMDA. 

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What is the name of the condition caused by excess serotonin? 

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Serotonin syndrome. 

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Positive symptoms of schizophrenia include: 

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Hallucinations and delusions. 

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Which drug can mimic the positive symptoms of schizophrenia? 

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Carbidopa. 

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Which non-dopaminergic recreational drug can also mimic the positive symptoms of schizophrenia? 

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Phencyclidine (PCP)

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What is one weakness of the dopamine hypothesis?

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Some patients have dopamine blockage of up to 90 percent, yet still exhibit symptoms. 

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The interactionist approach involves:

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Using biopsychosocial factors and analyzing them together with environmental factors in regard to the development of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia. 

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The diathesis-stress model was created by _____?

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Paul Meehl

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What is stress defined as?

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An event, either singular or multiple, in which the person experiencing the event has a disruption of their psychologic equilibrium.

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What is diathesis? 

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Diathesis is a person's predisposition to developing a condition. 

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Many hospitalizations for psychotic illnesses occur after a_____.

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Stressful event. 

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