Classification and Diagnosis of a Schizophrenia

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Updated: Aug 23, 2023
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Schizophrenia is a psychological condition that causes a person to lose touch with reality. It is not the person’s fault who was diagnosed with schizophrenia that they have it; it is abnormalities in their brain that cause them to act as they do. Someone diagnosed with schizophrenia might experience hallucinations, delusions, and difficulty living a normal life. Schizophrenia only occurs in one percent of people, and the symptoms normally begin to show between the late teen years and 30 years old.

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While young children can be diagnosed with schizophrenia, it is very rare. Similarly, it is very rare for someone over the age of 45 to be diagnosed. Schizophrenia is equally as common in men as it is in women, but men begin showing symptoms earlier than women. The following work is going to examine the symptoms, causes, and treatments of schizophrenia.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

There are three categories for the symptoms of schizophrenia: positive, negative, and cognitive. Positive symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, and abnormal body movements. Most schizophrenic people who experience hallucinations hear voices in their heads that are not real, but they might also see things that others cannot see. These experiences seem as real to the person with schizophrenia as any other experience, so it is challenging for them to decipher between real life and their hallucinations. Delusions are beliefs a person holds that are not true. For example, they might believe that someone on the television is talking directly to them, or they might believe that they have extraordinary athletic abilities even though they do not. The last positive symptom a person with schizophrenia may exhibit is abnormal body movements, such as moving very slowly or very fast. During catatonia, they stop moving altogether and must have someone else help them with basic life skills. However, they may also move fast, making abnormal gestures or sitting in odd positions. One reason for these movements is because of hallucinations or delusions in which they believe they are being told to act a certain way.

Negative Symptoms and Cognitive Impairments

The negative symptoms of schizophrenia are very similar to those of depression. They may include a lack of visible emotion, a lack of interest in activities, or a lack of sociability. A lack of sociability includes difficulty at work and making friends. This may cause them to drop out of school or quit working. They may become very quiet, rarely speaking or carrying on a conversation. People who experience negative symptoms often seem to lose their ability to enjoy life. They do not enjoy the activities that at one time they loved, partly because they do not have the motivation or energy to follow through with those activities. Many times, they prefer to stay at home and only be around a select few people. Schizophrenic people may also show a decline in caring for themselves, cleanliness,s, and grooming. Their emotions may also become very sporadic; one day, they may be in a great mood, while the next, they might be depressed and angry.
Cognitive symptoms involve having trouble learning, focusing, and remembering information. For those still in school, they struggle to keep up because they cannot learn as easily as others. They do not process information as quickly as others, and they think in an illogical pattern. While talking to them, they might, in the middle of a conversation, start talking about something completely different. They also have trouble focusing on one thing. Schoolwork and other various jobs can take them much longer than the average person because their mind will continually wander to other thoughts. Additionally, though they might have something to say, they have trouble expressing that idea to others. Unfortunately, due to these cognitive symptoms, schizophrenic people do not realize that something is wrong with them.

Diagnosis and Types

Diagnosing schizophrenia is often difficult due in part to the fact that people with schizophrenia do not realize they have the disorder to diagnose. First, doctors will do many tests to determine a person’s symptoms, but there is not a single, absolute test to diagnose schizophrenia. These tests include physical examinations, brain scans, and liver, thyroid, and urine tests. Once they have figured out the patient’s symptoms, the doctor must discern whether that person has schizophrenia or another psychological condition. The doctor must also rule out the use of drugs as the cause of the symptoms. In order to diagnose a person with schizophrenia, that person must have had at least six months of two or more symptoms. If that person has had extreme hallucinations or delusions, though, their diagnosis may be given with only one symptom. Someone’s doctor might diagnose them as having a paranoid type, disorganized type, catatonic type, residual type, or undifferentiated type of schizophrenia. These are determined by the specific symptoms they experience most frequently. Paranoid-type schizophrenia occurs when they have delusions about people coming after them. The symptoms they experience are primarily positive. If a patient has irrational thoughts, leading to confusing speech and behavior, they may be demonstrating a disorganized type. The disorganized type is much easier to recognize than the paranoid type because the symptoms are clearly visible to those around them. If they cannot move at all or move or speak excessively and inappropriately, they may exhibit a catatonic type. A person with catatonic type schizophrenia often has no purpose for their actions, and they will sometimes even copy the actions and behaviors of others. The residual type is classified as losing the positive symptoms but still having the negative symptoms. This type of schizophrenia is not considered active because its effects are milder and easier to cope with. The generic form of schizophrenia is called undifferentiated because it does not fall into any other type. They may show symptoms from multiple categories of schizophrenia, so they cannot be classified specifically under just one. Another form of schizophrenia is schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder happens when a person experiences all the symptoms of schizophrenia, in addition to drastic mood changes.

Causes and Risk Factors

While researchers are not certain exactly what causes schizophrenia, they have learned that it relates to differences in a person’s brain structure and genetics. People with schizophrenia have been found to have irregular amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine in their brains. When too much dopamine is released, hallucinations can occur. Abusing drugs like marijuana may also increase a person’s risk for schizophrenia because it brings about psychotic behaviors, which may not go away even after stopping. Researchers have also noticed that people with schizophrenia have “enlarged, fluid-filled areas and a corresponding shrinkage and thinning of cerebral tissue” (Myers, 2014, p. 531). Other parts of the brain shrink as well, including the cortex, corpus callosum, and thalamus. Because these are not the size they should be, the functions they control will not be the same as others with normal-sized parts. This explains some of the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. People who have family members with schizophrenia are much more likely to get the disorder themselves, and those who have an identical twin with schizophrenia are especially at risk. Genetics influence the likelihood of getting schizophrenia during their lifetime, but it is environmental influences that cause schizophrenia to appear. People are more likely to get schizophrenia later in life when they are exposed to a virus in the womb as a fetus. This, as well as not getting enough oxygen during delivery and having a low birth weight, cause problems in the development of the baby’s brain, which may cause schizophrenia. There are at least two theories for why schizophrenia does not appear until early adulthood. One is that there is a problem with the way the brain developed during adolescence, or the second is that the brain could have sustained an injury during the early beginning of the child’s life that affected the brain’s development into adulthood. Researchers are still searching for a way to predict, based on genetic information, who will have schizophrenia later on in life.

Treatment and Management

Since there is still uncertainty about what causes schizophrenia, no cure has been found for it. However, there are ways to manage its symptoms. One option is to take antipsychotic medication, which can be taken as a pill, liquid, or shot. Antipsychotic medicines target chemical imbalances in the brain, preventing an excess of neurotransmitters like dopamine. Other medicines may also be prescribed to control mood changes and other behavior problems. Reducing the amount of stress a person with schizophrenia experiences is also an important way to manage its symptoms. Another effective form of treatment is psychotherapy, in which a schizophrenic person might be taught ways to deal with their symptoms and how to regain the ability to live a normal life. Unfortunately, since they do not recognize that they have this disorder, people with schizophrenia refuse to take medicine or get help on their own and, as a result, have to battle the symptoms for the rest of their lives.


Schizophrenia is a serious disorder that should not be taken lightly. A person with schizophrenia might experience positive, negative, or cognitive symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions, an inability to enjoy life, and an inability to learn and remember. There are multiple categories of schizophrenia, including paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated, and residual. Scientists and researchers believe that schizophrenia is brought about by problems with a person’s brain, influenced by genetics, and triggered by factors in their environment. There is no cure for schizophrenia yet, but with antipsychotic medication and psychotherapy, people with schizophrenia can learn to live a fairly normal life again. Learning about disorders like schizophrenia is important to ensure that the patient receives the proper treatment to allow them and their families to manage the disorder. It also helps those around people with schizophrenia to understand what that person is going through and how to better help them.

Works Cited

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.
  2. Bleuler, E. (1911). Dementia Praecox or the Group of Schizophrenias. International Universities Press.
  3. Myers, D. G. (2014). Psychology (10th ed.). Worth Publishers.
  4. Rosenberg, S. D., Mueser, K. T., Friedman, M. J., Gorman, P. G., Drake, R. E., Vidaver, R. M., & Torrey, W. C. (2001).Developing effective treatments for schizophrenia patients: the Schizophrenia Patient Outcomes Research Team (PORT) project. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 27(1), 95-108.
  5. Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America. (2021). Understanding Schizophrenia.
  6. Seeman, P. (1987). Dopamine receptors and the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia. Synapse, 1(2), 133-152.
  7. Tandon, R., Nasrallah, H. A., & Keshavan, M. S. (2009). Schizophrenia, “Just the Facts” what we know in 2008. 2. Epidemiology and etiology. Schizophrenia Research, 102(1-3), 1-18.
  8. Walker, E. F., & Diforio, D. (1997). Schizophrenia: a neural diathesis–stress model. Psychological Review, 104(4), 667-685.
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Classification and Diagnosis of a Schizophrenia. (2023, Jun 19). Retrieved from