National Schizophrenia Foundation
Advancing Support, Information, and Awareness

Home About NSF SA Site map Contact us Support NSF
Schizophrenia 101: How to Help Someone with Schizophrenia Resources
Schizophrenia FAQ
Historical Figures
Diagnostic Criteria

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) conducts clinical research studies on schizophrenia and related disorders. The NIMH seeks participants for studies at different locations across the United States. For further information on participating in a clinical research study, go to the: NIMH Web Site

Schizophrenia 101: How to Help Someone with Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and acts. It is characterized by changes in behavior, thinking patterns, and emotions. Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder that affects approximately 1% of the population worldwide.


People with schizophrenia often experience hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. Hallucinations are false perceptions of events or people; delusions are false beliefs that the person holds despite evidence to the contrary; disorganized thinking involves difficulty organizing thoughts and expressing them in a meaningful way.


Symptoms may also include social withdrawal, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating and focusing on tasks, problems with reality testing (for example incorrect assumptions about what is real or not), inappropriate emotional responses to situations or people, and difficulties in managing daily activities such as personal hygiene. It affects both men and women of all ages, with the average age of onset being early adulthood.


There are several classifications of schizophrenia, with the most widely accepted being the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).


According to the DSM-5, there are five subtypes of schizophrenia, each characterized by a specific set of symptoms. These subtypes include


  • Paranoid
  • Disorganized
  • Catatonic
  • Undifferentiated
  • Residual


What is paranoid schizophrenia ICD 10?


Paranoid schizophrenia, also known as delusional disorder, is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a type of "schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders". The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) code for paranoid schizophrenia is F20.0.


Paranoid schizophrenia is characterized by delusions that dominate the individual's thoughts and behavior. These delusions can be intense and seemingly bizarre, causing disruptions to an individual's daily life.


They may experience false beliefs that they are being persecuted or plotted against or have grandiose beliefs about their own power or significance. Paranoid individuals often become suspicious and distrustful of those around them. They may also become overly controlling and preoccupied with secrecy, leading to social isolation. Other symptoms include auditory or visual hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, depersonalization, catatonia, paranoia, agitation, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating or making decisions.


What is disorganized schizophrenia?


Disorganized schizophrenia, also known as hebephrenia, is a type of severe mental disorder characterized by disorganized and incoherent thoughts, speech, and behavior. People with this condition may have difficulty managing daily activities such as bathing, eating, or dressing. They may also have problems focusing on tasks or remembering instructions. Symptoms of disorganized schizophrenia are often accompanied by low motivation and social withdrawal.


People with disorganized schizophrenia typically display very disorganized thinking patterns and behaviors. Their thoughts may be difficult to understand or make sense of, often jumping from one topic to another. They may speak in an illogical manner that makes it difficult for other people to understand their speech. Additionally, they often experience delusions and hallucinations related to false beliefs and hearing voices.


The physical symptoms of disorganized schizophrenia can include motor restlessness due to lack of concentration and coordination, poor hygiene, bizarre expressions or gestures (often referred to as “word salad”), lack of emotion in facial expression or voice inflection (often referred to as “flat affect”), and inappropriate responses in social situations. People with this condition may also experience depression and anxiety due to feelings of guilt or poor self-esteem caused by their impairments in functioning. Other common symptoms include sleep disturbances such as insomnia, nightmares or excessive sleeping; appetite disturbance leading to weight gain or loss; diminished interest in activities; apathy; poor concentration; memory problems; cognitive impairment; paranoia; suicidal ideation/thoughts of self-harm; and difficulty displaying affection for others .


Treatment for disorganized schizophrenia typically consists of a combination of medications (e.g., antipsychotics) and psychosocial interventions such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). The goal is to help the patient manage symptoms so they can lead a more functional life while minimizing any potential side effects associated with medications. Treatment plans must be tailored to meet the individual needs of the patient based on their current level of functioning and severity of their illness.


What is catatonic schizophrenia?


The most common type of schizophrenia is Catatonic Schizophrenia, which is characterized by episodes of catatonia: remaining motionless for extended periods of time, and often having difficulties speaking.


Other types of schizophrenia include paranoid, disorganized, undifferentiated, residual, and schizoaffective disorder.


People with schizophrenia can have difficulties managing everyday tasks like socializing or taking care of themselves.


They may also experience problems working or attending school due to their condition.


Treatment options for schizophrenia include medication (like antipsychotics), psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy), lifestyle changes (such as exercise and healthy eating habits), support groups, and hospitalization if needed.


What is undifferentiated schizophrenia?


Undifferentiated schizophrenia is a subtype of schizophrenia that is characterized by symptoms that do not fit neatly into one of the other established subtypes.


It is usually diagnosed when the patient presents with a range of positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms, but none are severe enough to be classified as another subtype.


People with undifferentiated schizophrenia may experience a variety of psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations (hearing voices), delusions (false beliefs about reality), disorganized speech, difficulty thinking clearly and processing information, difficulty carrying out goal-directed behavior, and speaking in an emotionally flat or monotone voice.


 In addition to these primary symptoms, people with undifferentiated schizophrenia may also experience anxiety, depression, social isolation, and difficulty functioning at home or work.


Treatment typically involves a combination of antipsychotic medication and psychotherapy aimed at reducing the severity of symptoms and helping individuals learn coping skills for managing their illness.


What is residual schizophrenia?


Residual schizophrenia is a form of schizophrenia in which the individual experiences milder symptoms than those seen in the acute phases of the illness. It is characterized by reduced positive and negative symptoms, such as auditory hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thought processes and speech, limited social functioning, and difficulty managing daily life activities.


 The person may still have some cognitive impairment, but it is usually milder than in previous episodes.

People with residual schizophrenia tend to require less medication than those with active symptoms and often have periods of recovery without any need for medication at all.


Residual schizophrenia is believed to be caused by imbalanced levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine or serotonin.


What is borderline schizophrenia?


Borderline schizophrenia is a form of mental illness that lies on the border between psychosis and neurosis. It is characterized by severe psychological distress, disorganization of thinking, impaired self-awareness, disturbed reality testing, and extreme mood swings. People with borderline schizophrenia often struggle to regulate their emotions and may experience hallucinations or delusions.


Aspects of the disorder can include difficulties in concentration, relationship problems, impulsivity, aggression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.


 Affective instability can also be present; sufferers may feel overwhelmed by intense emotions that they have difficulty controlling or understanding.


Symptoms of borderline schizophrenia are often more complex than other forms of psychosis due to its combination of psychotic features with traits more traditionally associated with personality disorders such as narcissism or paranoia. Treatment typically involves a combination of psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and social support.


What is drug induced schizophrenia?


Drug induced schizophrenia is a form of psychosis that can occur after the use or abuse of certain types of drugs. It is believed that certain drugs, such as hallucinogens, cocaine, amphetamines, sedatives, and alcohol can trigger this disorder in vulnerable individuals.


 Symptoms of drug-induced schizophrenia typically involve psychotic symptoms including delusions and hallucinations, disorganized thinking and behavior, disruption in moods and emotions, difficulty communicating with others, paranoia, and altered perceptions of reality.


The condition is usually time-limited but may last for months or even longer depending on the individual's specific circumstances


. Treatment typically involves pharmacological management with antipsychotic medication as well as psychotherapy to help manage the symptoms. It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you suspect you are experiencing drug-induced schizophrenia so that appropriate interventions can be implemented in order to ensure optimal recovery.




Is schizophrenia a disability?


Yes, schizophrenia is a disability. The condition is characterized by changes in thought processes, perceptions, and behavior that can cause significant distress and impair social functioning. It is often associated with poor mental health, memory problems, difficulty with concentration and decision-making, as well as delusions and hallucinations. People with schizophrenia may also experience an inability to experience pleasure or joy, negative feelings such as guilt or shame, suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. In addition to these psychological symptoms, people with schizophrenia may experience physical symptoms such as sleep disturbances, fatigue, and changes in appetite. These symptoms can significantly interfere with daily activities and quality of life for individuals living with the condition. Additionally, the disabling nature of schizophrenia can make it difficult for those affected to maintain employment or relationships due to the unpredictable effects of their illness on their behavior.


Is schizophrenia genetic?


While the exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown, it is likely to involve genetic and environmental factors. Studies have shown that genes play a role in the onset of this disorder, with some people having a higher risk if they have a family member with schizophrenia. In addition to genetics, environmental triggers such as stress or drug use may also play a role in the development of schizophrenia.


There is a "Large-Scale Exome Sequencing Study Implicates Both Developmental and Functional Changes in the Neurobiology of Schizophrenia". In this study, researchers analyzed the exome sequences (the protein-coding regions of DNA) of over 65,000 individuals, including people with schizophrenia and healthy controls. They identified several genes that were significantly associated with schizophrenia, including some that had not been previously implicated. The study also suggested that some of the genetic variations associated with schizophrenia may affect the development and function of neurons in the brain.


What may cause schizophrenia?


Environmental triggers of schizophrenia can include a variety of factors, both psychological and physical.


Psychological factors may include stress, trauma, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, bullying, or any other life experience that could be seen as overwhelming or traumatic. It's important to note that these do not necessarily cause the disorder but can aggravate existing symptoms or increase the risk of its development.


Physical factors like diet and nutrition also influence the risk of developing schizophrenia. A poor diet lacking essential vitamins and minerals has been linked to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. Moreover, evidence suggests that a deficiency in vitamin D or folate can increase the likelihood of developing the disorder. Additionally, prenatal exposure to toxins such as alcohol or tobacco has been associated with an increased likelihood of developing schizophrenia later in life.


Stressful life events combined with poor eating habits and exposure to toxins may increase a person’s risk of developing this mental health condition.


How to help someone with schizophrenia?


Helping someone with schizophrenia requires patience, understanding, and support. First, it is important to understand the condition, its symptoms, and any potential triggers. Research indicates that both medication and psychotherapeutic interventions are effective in treating schizophrenia. If the person is open to treatment, finding a qualified mental health professional to work with can be beneficial for helping to manage their symptoms.


It is important to recognize that living with schizophrenia can be challenging and isolating. Creating a supportive environment and providing emotional reassurance can make a huge difference in how they cope with their illness. Offer help by teaching coping skills such as deep breathing exercises or mindfulness techniques which can help them manage their symptoms more effectively. It’s also important to allow them access to alternative treatments like yoga or art therapy as these activities have been shown to reduce anxiety and improve the quality of life for those living with schizophrenia.


Providing education about the illness may be helpful in managing symptoms as well. Talking openly about the illness and discussing possible warning signs of relapse can help prepare someone for potential setbacks or crises that may arise due to their condition. Additionally, it's important for caregivers to look after themselves so they don't become overwhelmed by challenges associated with caring for someone who has schizophrenia. It’s vital that people supporting individuals with schizophrenia take regular breaks from caregiving duties in order to practice self-care; this includes getting enough rest and engaging in relaxing activities such as reading or going on walks outside.





Copyright � 1999-2007 National Schizophrenia Foundation, All Rights Reserved.