In this blog post, we will discuss what Disorganized Schizophrenia is, symptoms and treatment.
Disorganized Schizophrenia: What is it?
Disorganized Schizophrenia or hebephrenia was considered as one of the five subtypes of schizophrenia. The main characteristics of this disorder are disorganized behavior and speech and an inability or difficulty in emotional expression. Additional symptoms may include Hallucinations and delusions but are said to be less pronounced.
Even though the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, in the latest edition no longer recognizes subtypes, such as Disorganized Schizophrenia and residual schizophrenia, as part of the disorder, they might still get used in some psychiatric and mental health settings by clinicians and health professionals.
Who can develop Disorganized Schizophrenia?
This type of schizophrenia is often associated with people between the ages of 15 and 25 years, and someone can even start showing some of the symptoms as early as 13 years of age.
This mental disorder is considered a life-long condition and can be very disabling. Currently, there is no cure but the treatments are directed to minimize the symptoms and provide a better quality of life.
Symptoms of Disorganized Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia can make people have difficulties concentrating and sustaining a connection between thoughts, which can be evidenced when they speak.
They are normally perceived as incoherent when they attempt to answer questions and everything they say is unrelated to the question or is illogical.
Some signs of disorganized speech are:
- Perseveration, this means repeating the same word or phrase over and over again.
- They tend to create words that only have meaning to them.
- Loose associations or shifts quickly between subjects with no apparent connection.
- Use of rhyming words but without meaning.
- In severe cases, it can be nearly impossible to understand what the person is trying to say.
Here, goal-oriented behaviors are severely affected. Someone with Disorganized Schizophrenia can have difficulties (or it can become nearly impossible) beginning and ending tasks, not only due to trouble understanding an order or the task but also forgetting things or losing them. So, being independent is extremely difficult due to their disorganized behavior.
Some of the most common symptoms can be evidence as:
- An overall decline in daily life activities.
- Unpredictable emotional responses or showing no emotion at all. These responses may not be correlated with the current mood. Some examples can be evidenced as laughing at a funeral or providing monosyllabic responses when they are happy.
- Difficulties controlling impulses: related behaviors are drug abuse, extreme gambling and having eating disorders.
- Behaviors that might seem bizarre or lacking purpose.
- Severely impaired Daily life functioning in activities such as bathing, brushing teeth or dressing.
People with Disorganized Schizophrenia tend to have inappropriate emotional responses or how they express those emotions. They tend to exhibit flat affect, which means that their facial expressions, voice tone or mannerisms do not match their emotional states.
For instance, someone with Disorganized Schizophrenia can be at a funeral and start laughing instead of crying.
Delusions are false beliefs of persecution, guilt or grandeur. It is really common for people with Schizophrenia to describe how they have certain powers or how they think someone is stalking them or wants to harm them. They are convinced this is real and sometimes can become really aggressive.
These can be visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, gustatory and general somatic. Here we describe what each of them relates to:
- Visual Hallucinations: here the person sees something that does not exist or sees something that exists but they are perceiving it in a different way.
- Auditory Hallucinations: this is the most common form in people with schizophrenia and it is related to the perception of sounds that are non-existent. They will often hear voices that are talking to them but they can also be heard as whistling or hissing.
- Olfactory Hallucinations: they involve smelling odors that are non-existent. They are characterized for being usually unpleasant such as vomit, urine, feces, smoke or rotting flesh. This condition is known by the name of phantosmia and can result from neurological damage (trauma, brain tumor exposure to toxic substances) to areas of the brain related to the olfactory system.
- Tactile Hallucinations: refers to when they feel they are being touched and they are actually not. One of the most common complains relates to bugs crawling over the skin.
- Gustatory Hallucinations: these are related to the sensation that they are tasting something sweet or salty when they are actually not.
- General Somatic Hallucinations: this type of hallucination refers to the person experiencing their body being harmed or hurt for example, through mutilation or disembowelment. Other people have described animals, such as snakes, trying to invade their bodies.
Complications of Schizophrenia
Some of the complications can include being depressed, having suicidal thoughts or even suicidal attempts, Malnutrition, Hygiene problems, substance abuse (which may include alcohol, prescription medications, and illegal drugs), Inability to find or maintain employment which in the end results in financial problems, poverty, being homeless, among others.
People with schizophrenia have reported that smoking actually helps them concentrate but it can interfere with the effectivity of drugs and can lead to other medical conditions.
It is important for the family, friends or partners to be involved in therapy and support them as much as possible for the treatment to be more effective as if they have to endure living with this condition on their own.
How is it diagnosed?
The general criteria for a diagnosis of Schizophrenia should apply (at least 2 of the symptoms) for at least one month, and they are:
- Disorganized or catatonic behavior
- Negative symptoms such as flat affect, alogia (brief and empty replies), and avolition (difficulty starting or ending tasks) should be present.
Studies suggest that genes can make a person more vulnerable to Schizophrenia, meaning, you are at a higher risk of developing this condition if you have a first-degree relative that has been diagnosed or had schizophrenia and was not properly diagnosed.
Additional research has suggested that there may be a correlation between stress-related environmental circumstances, pregnancy, early-stage development, and Schizophrenia.
Some of the most common stress-related factors that can cause major risks of developing Schizophrenia are:
- Prenatal exposure to viral infections.
- Hypoxia at birth: low levels of oxygen at birth from prolonged labor or premature birth.
- Exposure to viruses as a child.
- Early parental separation
- Traumatic experiences or sexual abuse during childhood.
Some of the most common treatment options that have been shown to be beneficial treating Disorganized Schizoprehnia are:
Medication or drug management
Drug intake can help reduce symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and disorganized thinking. Doctors may recommend the best medication depending on the severity of the symptoms, especially because not everyone responds to medication the same way.
The most usually prescribed drugs are atypical antipsychotics or second-generation antipsychotics that are less likely to cause some of the side effects normally seen in typical medication.
The most recommended, to reduce certain symptoms and enhance functioning, is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Though CBT they need to identify and target disruptive or dysfunctional behaviors in order to develop specific coping skills.
Supported employment service
People with Disorganized Schizophrenia can benefit from getting trained in how to find and keep employment.
Family members, friends, relatives or partners, can get involved and they are usually educated in what Disorganized Schizophrenia is, what it means to live with someone suffering from it and get trained in strategies on how to manage and support their loved one.
Additionally, it has been evidenced that involving the family in the treatment, increases the chances of therapeutic success.
Common Myths related to Schizophrenia…
- Schizophrenia is the same as “split personality” or having multiple personalities.
- Schizophrenia is a very rare and not so common condition.
- People with schizophrenia are extremely dangerous.
- People with schizophrenia cant be treated.
Why is this blog about Disorganized Schizophrenia important?
Maybe you have a friend that has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, maybe it is a relative or even a partner, so that is why with this blog is important.
We intend to raise awareness of this debilitating condition and in the process, tell you how you can spot the symptoms and what treatment options are available.
Additionally, we intend to demystify some concepts related to schizophrenia and it is true that there are some complications that come with the disorder, but with the appropriate support from family and friends the risk of complications decreases.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about Disorganized Schizophrenia
What is disorganized behavior?
Disorganized behavior is an overall decline in normal daily functioning. Here behaviors appear as bizarre and with no purpose. This impairs your ability to work or take care of yourself, or even interacting with others.
Is Disorganized Schirophrenia dangerous?
It is not dangerous as in life-threatening but it is considered a life-long, serious and disabling condition that is characterized by disorganized and illogical thinking, inability to express emotions, having hallucinations and delusions, among other symptoms.
Can schizophrenics love?
Schizophrenics might love in a different way as it is established by society and culturally what it is accepted in relationships as “love”. Due to the disorder, their partner might notice they changed abruptly from being the most caring and loving partner to the coldest and distant.
Is Schizophrenia the worst mental illness?
Schizophrenia is not the worst mental illness, it is actually considered as a rare, chronic and severe disease that affects how a person might feel, think and behave. They seem to have lost touch with reality.
Are schizophrenics happy?
People with Schizophrenia can experience happiness the same way as normal person but they might not show it the same way. They have flat affect which makes them unable to express emotions and their facial expressions might not match with their emotional state.
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