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What Is Undifferentiated Schizophrenia?

The impact of schizophrenia can be significantly different from one person to another. These variations were once described using terms such as paranoid, catatonic, and undifferentiated schizophrenia. Though these and other subcategories are not commonly referred to today, understanding the different ways that a person can be affected by schizophrenia remains an important tool in the effort to get them the most appropriate care.

About Schizophrenia?

To understand undifferentiated schizophrenia, it can be helpful to begin with a general review of schizophrenia itself. Schizophrenia is a complex and commonly misunderstood mental health disorder. People who have schizophrenia may experience the following types of symptoms:

  • Delusions: These are beliefs that have no basis in reality. Examples of delusions include a person believing that they are being tracked or targeted by the government, or that their mind is being controlled by some unseen force. 
  • Hallucinations: The most common forms of hallucinations are auditory (hearing voices or other sounds that don’t exist) and visual (seeing people, lights, or other things that aren’t really there). 
  • Disorganized speech: This can include speaking in an incomprehensible manner, rapidly moving from one topic to another, and using words or sounds that have no clear meaning. Disorganized speech can also indicate that a person is unable to clearly organize their thoughts.
  • Disorganized or catatonic behavior: This type of symptom may include holding their body in odd positions, failing to respond to instructions or other stimuli, dressing in a bizarre manner, and repeating certain activities or words over and over again.
  • Negative symptoms: This group of symptoms can include lack of motivation, limited facial expressions, speaking in a flat or monotone voice, and showing little to no interest in the world around them.

According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is the standard reference for clinicians in the United States, a person must exhibit two or more of the symptom types listed above to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. The DSM-5 also notes that one of these symptoms must be either delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech.

What is Undifferentiated Schizophrenia?

The fourth edition of the DSM included five subtypes of schizophrenia: disorganized, catatonic, paranoid, residual, and undifferentiated. Under the standard established in the DSM-4, when a person was diagnosed with schizophrenia, they would also be identified as having one of the subtypes. 

  • Paranoid schizophrenia indicated that the individual was most strongly affected by hallucinations and delusions. 
  • Catatonic schizophrenia emphasized the impact that the disorder had on how the person moved their body. 
  • Disorganized schizophrenia meant that the individual had significant struggles with speech and behavior. 
  • Residual schizophrenia was reserved for people who primarily experienced negative symptoms.

If a person did not meet the criteria for the disorganized, catatonic, paranoid, or residual subtypes, they would be classified as having undifferentiated schizophrenia. Undifferentiated schizophrenia and the other four subtypes were removed during the development of the DSM-5, which was published in 2013. 

Similarly, undifferentiated schizophrenia was included as a type of schizophrenia in the 10th version of the International Classification of Diseases, which is the standard reference for most clinicians outside the United States, but it was removed during the creation of the ICD-11. 

This woman is explaining to her friend what Undifferentiated Schizophrenia is.

Does Undifferentiated Schizophrenia Still Exist?

Changes in reference books do not change the symptoms that a person has developed. In other words, people who were diagnosed with undifferentiated schizophrenia prior to the publication of the DSM-5 did not stop having the disorder when the updated version of the book was released. 

What we’re trying to say here is that the symptoms of undifferentiated schizophrenia still exist, and they can still have a profound impact on the lives of people who experience them. The only change is that today, these symptoms would result in a diagnosis of schizophrenia, since the subtypes are no longer used.

Changes in medical terminology are not uncommon. For example, bipolar disorder was once called manic-depressive disorder. And people who once would have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome are today diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

This is a somewhat long-winded (but hopefully informative) way of noting that the symptoms of undifferentiated schizophrenia continue to exist, although the term is no longer in common use.

How is Undifferentiated Schizophrenia Treated in Atlanta, GA?

The symptoms that were previously categorized as undifferentiated schizophrenia are usually treated with a combination of prescription medication and therapy. The medication a person receives can vary depending on several factors, including the nature of their schizophrenia symptoms and whether they have any co-occurring mental health concerns. Antipsychotics are usually prescribed to treat schizophrenia. Within this category, healthcare providers have many options when seeking the most effective medication for a specific individual.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has proved to be effective at helping people who have schizophrenia. CBT is a short-term, solution-oriented form of treatment. CBT sessions focus on identifying self-defeating thought patterns and maladaptive behaviors, with the goal of helping clients replace them with healthier ways of thinking and acting.

After a person has completed treatment for schizophrenia, they should receive an aftercare plan to guide their continued progress. This plan can connect them with community-based services and other sources of ongoing support.

Begin Schizophrenia Treatment in Atlanta, GA

Peachtree Wellness Solutions is a trusted provider of personalized care for adults who have what was once known as undifferentiated schizophrenia. Our treatment center in Atlanta, GA, offers a dynamic variety of services at the inpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient levels. If you or someone that you care about have been experiencing any symptoms of schizophrenia, the Peachtree Wellness Solutions team is here for you. Give us a call or visit our admissions page today to learn how we can help.