Disorganization schizophrenia (hebephrenic) is a type of schizophrenia. Disorganized schizophrenia used to be regarded as a subtype of schizophrenia, but this isn’t the case anymore.
In the United States, schizophrenia affects about one percent of the population and is a chronic and complex disorder of the brain.
The symptoms of schizophrenia range from distorted thinking to behavioral changes to altered perceptions of reality.
Although it is no longer an official diagnosis, hebephrenic schizophrenia refers to a group of symptoms that occurs as a result of disorganized thinking.
Check: Types of Schizophrenia
What is disorganized (hebephrenic) schizophrenia?
Those with hebephrenic schizophrenia or disorganization schizophrenia have symptoms such as:
- Disorganized thinking
- Unusual speech patterns
- Flat affect
- Feelings that aren’t appropriate in a given situation
- Incongruent facial expressions
- An inability to perform everyday tasks
As opposed to having hallucinations or delusions, hebephrenic individuals have disorganized behavior and speech.
Previously considered a diagnosis, hebephrenic schizophrenia is no longer considered an official diagnosis in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Edition 5 (DSM-5), the authoritative manual used by psychiatrists and other mental health care professionals.
Although the term is no longer considered a diagnosis in a manual used by healthcare professionals to classify diseases, it is still classified as a diagnosis in the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10).
Before now, mental health professionals were using a series of subtypes to describe one overarching diagnosis.
Read: Paranoid Schizophrenia
What are the possible symptoms of schizophrenia?
The following schizophrenia symptoms may be associated with:
- Hallucinations: Feeling, hearing, or seeing things that don’t exist
- Delusions: A belief or suspicion not supported by evidence even if other people hold it
- Negative symptoms: The person is emotionally flat, with no relationships, and their voices sound dull or disconnected
- Disorganized thinking or cognitive issues: Lack of insight, difficulty completing tasks
- Abnormal behavior: Being careless with one’s appearance, laughing at oneself, or self-neglecting
Schizophrenia patients who are described as disorganized typically do not have delusions or hallucinations, but they usually do have other symptoms in addition to disorganized thinking and negative symptoms.
What causes disorganization schizophrenia?
Hebephrenic schizophrenia has no known cause. A number of contributing factors have been identified by researchers:
- Biological factors
- Environmental factors
- Substance use
Hebephrenic schizophrenia is thought to be caused by a combination of many of these factors. It is also believed that some types of schizophrenia are caused by different factors.
What is the diagnosis of disorganized schizophrenia?
Disorganized schizophrenia is hard to diagnose. It cannot be diagnosed by a lab test or physical exam.
Symptoms must be observed for at least six months before the illness can be diagnosed. Other medical conditions must be ruled out, including a brain tumor, other mental disorders, substance-induced psychosis, and other conditions.
Schizophrenia is diagnosed when a person consistently exhibits at least two of the following symptoms:
- Disorganized behavior
- Negative symptoms
Disorganized schizophrenia is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Flat affect
- Speech disturbances
- Disorganized thinking
- Inappropriate emotions
- Illogical facial expressions
- The inability to perform daily tasks
A diagnosis can only be made once these related conditions have been ruled out:
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Schizophreniform disorder
- Delusional disorder
- Substance use
Read: Catatonic Schizophrenia
How common are schizophrenia risk factors?
Schizophrenia has many risk factors and causes, as it is not known what causes it.
Individuals who have risk factors for a disease or condition are not guaranteed to get that disease or condition. They are at greater risk for developing the condition.
Schizophrenia can be caused by:
- Substance use
The cause of schizophrenia isn’t known, but genetics and the environment are believed to interact. More than six times as likely as individuals without schizophrenia to go on to develop it are those with a direct relative with schizophrenia, as a parent or sibling.
Teens who use mind-altering drugs may be at greater risk of developing schizophrenia. The risk is higher for younger individuals and individuals who use substances more frequently.
An increased risk of schizophrenia has been linked to exposure to viruses in utero, particularly in the first and second trimesters.
Read: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
What is the treatment for schizophrenia?
Disorganization schizophrenia treatment goals include:
- Targeting symptoms
- Preventing relapse
- Making the individual more adaptive so they can be a part of their community
Both medications and other treatments are usually used to accomplish this.
Disorganization schizophrenia treatment
The following treatments are available:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Pharmacological therapy
- The first-line treatment for schizophrenia is an antipsychotic medication
- Assertive community treatment
- Team-based multidisciplinary therapy
- Assist in reducing hospitalizations and homelessness
Some patients may need a combination of medications depending on their specific symptoms. In many instances, both medicine and therapy are used together because support systems make it more likely for people to take their medication on time.
Psychotherapy and social support may also include job training and social skills training.
CBT can provide support and help address disorganized thinking and behaviors, even though there are no specific treatments for hebephrenic schizophrenia.
Read: What is Erotomania
Supporting a loved one
It may be necessary for loved ones to provide a lot of help to people with schizophrenia. It may be necessary to remind someone to take their medications, attend scheduled medical appointments, and maintain their health.
Caregivers of people with schizophrenia should consider the following tips:
- Respond calmly: Tell your loved one that you see things differently, explaining that the hallucinations and delusions seem real to you. Maintain a respectful attitude while not tolerating unsafe behavior.
- Be aware of triggers: Family members or friends can benefit from your understanding of and avoidance of situations that trigger symptoms or cause relapses and disruptions.
- Ensure that medications are taken according to prescriptions: When people feel better, or when the side effects aren’t pleasant, they may wonder if they’ll still need to take the medication. Ensure that your loved one takes their medications regularly so that symptoms won’t return or worsen.
- Identifying a lack of awareness: Schizophrenia may go unnoticed by your family member or friend. Assist them in getting therapy, taking medications, and staying safe.
- Don’t drink or take drugs: Schizophrenia symptoms and psychosis are known to be worsened by these substances. Get help for your loved one if they develop a substance abuse disorder.
Schizoaffective disorder is chronic (long-term) and incurable. It is important for caregivers to take care of their own health as well as their loved one’s health and to seek support when needed.
How does schizophrenia affect people?
Chronic illnesses like schizophrenia cannot be cured. These symptoms can be managed with the use of treatments, and staying on track with your treatment plan can help.
There may be an increased risk of financial, social, and health problems with schizophrenia because:
- Nutritionally deficient, unbalanced diet
- Smoking and substance abuse are more likely to occur together
- Health care access is limited
- The risk of attempting and thinking about suicide is higher
- An increased risk of adverse reactions to the therapy
- More than half of all people with schizophrenia suffer from other mental illnesses as well
Those diagnosed with this disorder can face a higher risk of death when all of these factors are combined.
Disorganization schizophrenia symptoms can be managed by therapeutic interventions including medication, behavioral treatment and social support. It may be necessary to change treatment if the side effects of the medication change or if the symptoms change.
A doctor can adjust or change a medication if it’s causing side effects.
Because hebephrenic schizophrenia is associated with disturbances in behavior and emotions, negative symptoms may be associated with higher risks. For management, it is crucial to have a comprehensive treatment plan alongside plentiful social support.
Disorganized schizophrenia has numerous complications, as do other mental health conditions. Some of these might be:
- Family conflict
- Victimization, perpetration, or both involvement in crime
- Lower levels of education
- Keeping up with housework is difficult because of poor living conditions
- Lack of compliance with medication
- Unhygienic personal habits
- Suicide risk
- Self-medicating with substances
It is unfortunate that many people with this disorder believe that their symptoms will resolve before they need medication or can stop taking their medication once they do.
Even if you are feeling well, it is crucial that you follow the advice of your doctor if you suffer from schizophrenia. Make sure to check on family members who suffer from schizophrenia frequently. Don’t stop taking medication without first checking for signs and symptoms of the disorder returning.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that is chronic, complex, and long-term. The DSM-5 does not recognize hebephrenic schizophrenia as a separate diagnosis, but the symptoms of the illness still exist.
Although schizophrenia is a serious health problem, many treatments can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for sufferers.