What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a complex psychological disorder that affects an estimated 24 million people worldwide. Characterized by symptoms that can profoundly disrupt thinking, emotions, and behavior, schizophrenia requires careful diagnosis and comprehensive treatment. On this page, we explore the different types of schizophrenia and their associated symptoms, aiming to foster a greater understanding of this often misunderstood condition. Additionally, we’ll share a few of our customers who are treating psychosis and schizophrenia. 

Symptoms of schizophrenia

Symptoms are commonly described as either ‘positive’ symptoms or ‘negative’ symptoms. Please note that these terms differ from the common definition of these words. So, it doesn’t mean that they are good or bad, but rather additive or subtractive. ‘Positive’ symptoms are unusual changes that ‘added on’ to a person’s experiences. They are usually called ‘psychotic symptoms’ or ‘psychosis’.  ‘Negative’ symptoms are the lack of feelings that people normally have.

Both types of symptoms can affect an individual’s ability to function. The negative symptoms can often appear several years before somebody experiences their first episode of psychosis.

What are the ‘positive symptoms’ of schizophrenia? 

‘Positive symptoms’ mean that the individual experiences additional aspects to their reality. All of the symptoms below are not exclusive to schizophrenia. These symptoms can also happen in other mental illnesses. They are usually called ‘psychotic symptoms’ or ‘psychosis’.

Examples of these may be: 

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech

What are Delusions? 

Delusions are false beliefs that are not reality. Individuals may have beliefs that are strange, but at the time seem very real. In some cases, individuals with schizophrenia may think they are being watched, someone is putting messages into their heads, or that someone is taking away their thoughts. Or, individuals may feel like they have superpowers or that a famous person is in love with them. These delusions are typically brought on by sensory experiences or emotional states.

What are Hallucinations? 

Hallucinations are seeing, feeling, or hearing things that don’t exist. People with schizophrenia may hear voices that may sound angry or may lead a person to take urgent action. Additionally, other hallucinations may include visual hallucinations, which cause someone to see things that are not there. Individuals may see people or figures, like clowns, in an audience. Lastly, some people may smell or taste things that are not present, which may cause some to avoid eating.

What is considered disorganized speech? 

Disorganized speech is when a person speaks or responds verbally in a way without a consistent train of thought. For example, an individual may speak incoherently or respond to a question with an answer that is not appropriate to the question. Other times, someone with schizophrenia may say something illogical or have trouble maintaining the focus of a topic in a conversation. This can be frustrating for both the individual and others around them as the ability for the individual to focus may seem not to be present, which may cause people to avoid engaging with them.

What are the ‘negative symptoms’ of schizophrenia? 

‘Negative symptoms’ mean that the individual experiences losses. So, with negative symptoms, the individual may lose some ability and enjoyment in life. 

Examples of these may be: 

  • Abnormal motor skills
  • Affective symptoms 

What are abnormal motor skills? 

Abnormal motor skills varies in numerous ways. Sometimes, people with schizophrenia may appear clumsy, because they may bump into objects or drop things. Holding objects still may be difficult, as individuals tend to sway their upper extremities. Complex motor skill tasks may be troublesome, such as tying shoelaces or engaging in activities requiring high dexterity. Subsequently, people with schizophrenia may work with an occupational therapist or physical therapist to work on their motor skills.

What are affective symptoms? 

Affective symptoms are often associated with manic or depressive episodes. Individuals may experience prolonged sadness, irritability, anxiety, lethargic, abnormal eating and sleeping habits, and more. These symptoms are usually treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

With this in mind, these symptoms may negatively impact an individual’s ability to function, causing them to seek medical treatment. It is a condition that requires lifelong management, with a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and sometimes cognitive remediation therapy. The earlier someone with schizophrenia gets intervention, they may be likely to control symptoms before they become severe and more complicated to manage.

Are there different types of schizophrenia?

5 types of schizophrenia

Yes, there are 5 different types of schizophrenia. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) manual describes them as below.


Paranoid schizophrenia

This is the most common form. Individuals prominent have hallucinations, where they hear voices or sounds, but their speech and emotions may be unaffected.


Hebephrenic or disorganized schizophrenia

This type of schizophrenia expresses it’s self with the following symptoms: irresponsible and unpredictable behavior, disorganized thoughts, decline of speech ability, self-isolating tendencies, and a surprising increase of desire to do pranks, giggling and usually have health complaints.


Catatonic schizophrenia

This is a rarer form. Often times, individuals with this condition have unusual movements, often switching between being very active and very still along with no desire for communication.


Simple schizophrenia

This type often has more negative symptoms of isolating and progressive gets worst. They rarely have any positive symptoms.


Residual schizophrenia

This type of schizophrenia is diagnosed in the later stages of the condition. For example, an individual may be diagnosed with this if they have a history of schizophrenia but only continue to experience negative symptoms.


Unspecified schizophrenia

Symptoms meet the general conditions for a diagnosis, but do not fit in to any of the above categories.

Are schizophrenia symptoms lifelong?

Not necessarily, because symptoms of schizophrenia vary in type and severity over time. So, some time periods may involve the worsening of symptoms, and others may be remission of symptoms. Some individuals have persistent symptoms, while others may only experience them intermittently.

Can anyone have schizophrenia?

Yes. In men, symptoms often start to precipitate in their early to mid-20s, whereas women often experience symptoms in their late 20s. Children and individuals over the age of 45 rarely get diagnosed. However, people may start to experience symptoms in their teenage years. It is always best to seek medical advice at the first notice or experience of symptoms, as early intervention can help someone avoid experiencing psychosis.

Is schizophrenia a genetic disorder, a developmental disability, or both?

Evidence for a genetic disorder

In some ways, schizophrenia may be considered a genetic disorder. Genetic studies focused on single nucleotide polymorphisms have found several genes of interest that may be responsible for causing schizophrenia. Specifically, researchers have identified that mutations on chromosome 6p21.3-22.1, 2q32.1, chromosome 8, and 18q21.2 may be linked to schizophrenia. Other genes of interest are involved in signaling pathways and the potassium channel. Currently, researchers have identified 43 genes that may be involved in causing schizophrenia, but it appears that a variety of genetic abnormalities may cause schizophrenia.

Evidence for a developmental disorder

Some researchers and medical professionals think of schizophrenia as a developmental disorder. Researchers have found that people with schizophrenia have different brain development. Additionally, research indicates that affected individuals might have reduced myelination, interneuron activity, and excessive excitatory pruning. With this abnormal brain development researchers believe that people with schizophrenia interpret and process information differently.

Evidence for a substance induced disorder

On the other hand, other researchers are discovering the influence of recreational substance use, such as marijuana, methamphetamines or LSD, which could cause individuals to develop similar signs and symptoms of schizophrenia.

How to help someone?

It is recommended to consult a doctor and receive medical advice for proper diagnosis. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a service called the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to help individuals find mental health treatment facilities and programs. SAMHSA’s Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator provides information about treatment facilities that offer coordinated specialty care.

Current Customers treating Psychosis

What treatment is available?

There are many other treatment options available. For example, one of the most popular treatment options is using a clinician trained in the NEAR cognitive remediation therapy (Neuropsychological Educational Approach to Remediation) founded by Dr. Alice Medalia of Columbia University approach. Additionally, Dr. Chris Bowie has a treatment style similar to Dr. Medalia’s called ABCR. Lastly, Learn about how the HOPE program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center conducts its research and treatment for individuals with schizophrenia.

Learn about our research into the treatment of Schizophrenia

Check out the recent research published using HappyNeuron Pro with Schizophrenia patients:


Franck N, Duboc C, Sundby C, et al. Specific vs general cognitive remediation for executive functioning in schizophrenia: a multicenter randomized trial. Schizophr Res. 2013;147(1):68‐74. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2013.03.009


Pascal Vianin, Sébastien Urben, Pierre Magistretti, Pierre Marquet, Eleonora Fornari, Laure Jaugey. Increased activation in Broca’s area after cognitive remediation in schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, Volume 221. Issue 3, 30 March 2014, pp 204-209.



Best MW, Milanovic M, Shamblaw AL, et al. An examination of the moderating effects of neurophysiology on treatment outcomes from cognitive training in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders [published online ahead of print, 2019 Feb 15]. Int J Psychophysiol. 2019;S0167-8760(18)30863-8. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2019.02.004


Best MW, Gale D, Tran T, Haque MK, Bowie CR. Brief executive function training for individuals with severe mental illness: Effects on EEG synchronization and executive functioning. Schizophr Res. 2019;203:32‐40. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2017.08.052


Best MW, Milanovic M, Tran T, et al. Motivation and engagement during cognitive training for schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Schizophr Res Cogn. 2019;19:100151. Published 2019 May 23. doi:10.1016/j.scog.2019.100151


Kidd SA, Herman Y, Virdee G, et al. A comparison of compensatory and restorative cognitive interventions in early psychosis. Schizophr Res Cogn. 2019;19:100157. Published 2019 Jul 24. doi:10.1016/j.scog.2019.100157


Balzan RP, Mattiske JK, Delfabbro P, Liu D, Galletly C. Individualized Metacognitive Training (MCT+) Reduces Delusional Symptoms in Psychosis: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Schizophr Bull. 2019;45(1):27‐36. doi:10.1093/schbul/sby152

Some of our research partners

In Summary

  • With consistent treatment —a combination of medication, therapy, and social support—individuals with schizophrenia may manage the disease and lead fulfilling lives.
  • The exact causes are still unknown. Research suggests a combination of physical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors may increase the risk of an individual developing the condition.
  • Schizophrenia is a mental illness and it affects about 1 in every 100 people.
  • It may develop during early adulthood. The earlier the intervention, the easier it will be for the individual to manage their symptoms.
  • There are 5 different types of schizophrenia: paranoid, catatonic, disorganized or hebephrenic, simple, and undifferentiated.
  • To try HappyNeuron Pro with your patients, get a free trial here.

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