Schizophrenia, disorganized subtype is also known as hebephrenia because it commonly presents in adolescents and young adults, usually below the age of 25, according to MedlinePlus.
People with disorganized schizophrenia begin to show aberrations in how they organize their thoughts and behaviors and in how they process emotions. Disorganized schizophrenia is quite rare, making up about one to three percent of people with schizophrenia, according to a review in Schizophrenia Research.
Symptoms of Disorganized Schizophrenia
People with disorganized schizophrenia may show a variety of symptoms, which can include:
- Aimless or unconstructive behaviors
- Silly, strange or childlike behaviors
- Movements that aren’t directed toward specific tasks
- Inappropriate or bizarre emotional responses, such as random outbursts of laughter
- Blunted emotions, particularly pleasure
- Blunted emotional expression, such as lack of eye contact, vocal modulation or body language
- Lethargy or loss of motivation
- Impaired communication, such as responding to questions with partially or completely unrelated answers
- Jumbled or disorganized speech that lacks coherent meaning
- Disorganized thought patterns, such as having difficulty sticking to one subject or separating one topic from another
- Difficulty organizing behaviors to the extent that it may interfere with day-to-day activities, such as preparing meals or dressing properly
- Seeing or hearing things that aren’t real (hallucinations)
- Firmly held beliefs that aren’t real (delusions)
Treating Disorganized Schizophrenia
For many people, these symptoms interfere with their ability to hold a job or have close interpersonal relationships. Unfortunately, disorganized schizophrenia is the type most resistant to treatment, according to an article in FOCUS.
Still, there is hope. Atypical antipsychotic medications are useful for treating the positive symptoms of disorganized schizophrenia – that is to say, the symptoms that are present in people with disorganized schizophrenia that are not present in people without the condition. These include hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. However, medications are less effective for treating the negative symptoms, or feelings and skills found in most people, which those who live with disorganized schizophrenia lack. Such symptoms include blunted emotions and emotional expression, difficulty feeling pleasure, and lack of motivation.
To help restore their functioning, people with disorganized schizophrenia can also receive therapies.
- Psychosocial treatments teach coping skills and life skills, such as how to communicate more meaningfully, practice effective self-care, and engage in relationships.
- Family education can help family members learn how to manage their loved one’s medication, how to be patient during times of frustration, and how to best support their loved one through the challenging process of recovery.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps people manage symptoms that medication can’t solve. It teaches how to test thoughts and perceptions to discern what is real and what is an illusion. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that CBT reduces the severity of schizophrenia symptoms and the risk of relapsing.
- Self-help groups often don’t involve a professional therapist, but instead provide a supportive circle of peers who understand what it’s like to have schizophrenia.
Families of loved ones with disorganized schizophrenia should be prepared to help their loved one on every level, from seeing therapists and managing medication to the intricacies of everyday living. Our therapists at Black Bear Lodge are ready to provide the support and treatment that you or loved one needs to manage your mental health. We provide individualized treatment and expert-level care to each of our patients. We’re here to help – call to learn more.