Schizophrenia is a form of psychosis that shifts sufferers from reality to an often terrifying world of delusions, confusion, danger and hallucination. Often the symptoms of schizophrenia are described as "positive" or "negative." Positive symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations, thought disorders and involuntary movements may come and go.
Negative symptoms refer to reductions in normal behavior, such as a monotonous voice, emotionless facial expression, a lack of pleasure, infrequent speech, poor hygiene and the inability to execute a plan. Sometimes, symptoms occur constantly, while at other times patients suffer from schizophreniform disorder.
There are five different types of schizophrenia, according to schizophrenia research, and the symptoms vary. The first type and the most common is paranoid schizophrenia. The paranoid schizophrenic suffers bizarre delusions and sometimes auditory hallucinations.
For instance, the patient may believe that the government is spying on them, that people on television or animals are talking to them, or that someone is trying to deliberately hurt them. Often, paranoid schizophrenics also suffer an accompanying anxiety disorder that causes heightened fear, nervous twitches and displeasure. Other patients have delusions of grandeur, and believe they are a great inventor or a celebrity.
Strange emotional responses characterize the second type, which is called disorganized schizophrenia. Symptoms of schizophrenia for this type may include emotionless facial display, a monotone voice, or the inability to laugh, cry and show any emotion. Sufferers may exhibit signs of "psychomotor poverty," disrupted speech patterns, a lack of spontaneous movement or motivation, derailment, thought disturbances and reality distortion.
The third type is called catatonic schizophrenia, which is the stereotypical view of a person rocking back and forth in a strait jacket, staring vapidly -- sometimes rambling incessantly, or at other times being completely mute. The symptoms of this type may include making jerky, bizarre movements, with arms and legs flailing about for no reason. The catatonic schizophrenic is incapable of caring for him or herself and is characterized as having a very severe mental illness.
The fourth type is referred to as undifferentiated schizophrenia, meaning that the symptoms cannot definitively classify the disorder as one type or another. Some patients show all the different symptoms or a few from each category. These patients sometimes lack catatonia, paranoia and disorganized speech, but may instead exhibit symptoms of a neurological disorder.
Lastly, the residual schizophrenic is someone who may have a past history, but currently exhibits no positive symptoms -- like delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or bizarre behavior. Sometimes residual schizophrenia occurs during a transition from diagnosed schizophrenia to remission, and other times no psychotic episodes occur for years.
Roughly, one out of every one thousand people develops a schizophreniform disorder - meaning that they exhibit a short term form of schizophrenia. Two thirds of the people with the disorder go on to develop a life-long mental illness.
These symptoms of schizophrenia can be caused by genetics, brain chemistry or environmental factors. Some people are literally pushed to the brink of insanity due to stress from social interactions. Others have an imbalance of neurotransmitters that may lead to disorganization in the brain.
To treat schizophrenia of any type, the good news is that taking an anti-psychotic schizophrenia drug is usually very effective in treating the symptoms, and allows most sufferers to live a relatively normal life.