Schizophrenia What Is Undifferentiated Schizophrenia? By Sherry Christiansen Sherry Christiansen Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer's research. Learn about our editorial process Updated on October 19, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Signs and Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment When to Call a Doctor Coping Undifferentiated schizophrenia was a previously-recognized subtype of schizophrenia that involved having symptoms of the condition that did not fit the characteristics of catatonic, paranoid, or disorganized schizophrenia. These conditions were once recognized as distinct subtypes of schizophrenia, but these have been removed as separate diagnoses in the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR). valentinrussanov / Getty Images Undifferentiated Schizophrenia Signs and Symptoms A diagnosis of schizophrenia must comply with the DSM-5 criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia by having at least two of the following symptoms: HallucinationsDelusionsDisorganized thinking (speech)Grossly disorganized or catatonic behaviorNegative symptoms such as showing no emotion or a total lack of motivation or interest in activities At least one of the symptoms must be hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized speech. According to the DSM-5 criteria for schizophrenia, a person must have experienced these symptoms for at least a month, with the overall course lasting at least six months. Additionally, the symptoms must interfere with at least one major area of functioning—including work, school, personal relationships, or self-care. Symptoms May Shift A person with schizophrenia with undifferentiated features has a range of symptoms that could be from any or all the other previous symptom subtypes including:Disorganized schizophreniaCatatonic schizophreniaParanoid schizophreniaSymptoms of schizophrenia categorized as undifferentiated can be variable. Symptoms of schizophrenia that might have been categorized as undifferentiated include all of the following diagnostic criteria of schizophrenia: Feeling void of emotionLack of motivation or desireAuditory hallucinationsDelusionsMovement disturbancesDisorganized speechBehavior and speech that is difficult to understand Causes of Undifferentiated Schizophrenia It is thought that alterations in brain chemistry and structure may be an underlying contributing or causal factor in schizophrenia. These brain abnormalities may develop before birth but can progress later in life. The changes that have been observed in the brain of those with schizophrenia suggest that schizophrenia may be a brain disorder. Risk Factors The exact cause of schizophrenia (including undifferentiated type schizophrenia) is not well understood, but some things pose a higher risk associated with getting the disorder, including: A person’s age: Schizophrenia is often diagnosed during the late teen years to the early thirties. In males, schizophrenia usually occurs at a younger age than it does in females. The average age for males to be diagnosed with schizophrenia is late adolescence to the early twenties. For females, that number is the early twenties to early thirties.Genetics: Although no specific gene has been definitively linked with schizophrenia, scientists know that the condition sometimes runs in the family. According to the National Institutes of Health, genetic studies strongly suggest that many different genes increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, but that no single gene causes the disorder by itself. More research is required before it will be possible to utilize genetic information to predict who will get schizophrenia.Environmental Factors: Some experts feel that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may play into whether a person develops schizophrenia. Diagnosis Although there is no specific lab test to diagnose schizophrenia, many types of medical tests are performed to help evaluate signs and symptoms of schizophrenia, while ruling out other disorders. A diagnosis of schizophrenia may include many different forms of screening tools and examination measures, including: A thorough history and physical examination: These will help rule out any physical causes of symptoms.Lab tests: There is no specific lab test to diagnose schizophrenia, but other types of lab tests may be done that could point to a physical contribution to the symptoms. Also, a drug screen could be ordered to test for any type of substance use.Imaging Tests: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) may be performed to check for any type of brain disorder (such as a tumor) that could be causing symptoms.A psychosocial evaluation: A test that is given to help evaluate a person’s mental health and social well-being, this evaluation includes a thorough history of psychiatric issues, medical history, drug and alcohol use, and more. A safety assessment: This assesses factors such as whether the person is a suicide risk. Cognitive tests: This evaluates problems in cognitive functioning that are often present in people with schizophrenia. Cognitive impairment may include problems with a person’s judgment, memory, language, and ability to learn new things. A diagnostic assessment: After the medical causes of the symptoms are ruled out, the healthcare provider may refer a person with symptoms of schizophrenia to a mental health professional for a diagnostic assessment. Undifferentiated Schizophrenia Treatment The range of treatment options for schizophrenia varies according to many different factors. The most influential factor regarding the treatment modality is the symptoms one experiences. Medication Treatment often involves medication—such as antipsychotic medication for the treatment of hallucinations and delusions. Examples of antipsychotic drugs include: Olanzapine (Zyprexa)Risperidone (Risperdal)Quetiapine (Seroquel)Aripiprazole (Abilify) One of the biggest concerns with many antipsychotic medications is non-compliance on a person's behalf. This can relate to side effects that can be troubling for some people with schizophrenia. Common side effects include: Increased appetiteSevere dry mouthSevere weight gainDrowsinessSleepinessConstipationIncreased lipid (fat) levels in the bloodAn increase in blood sugar levelsSexual problemsDizzinessAbnormal movementsRestlessness In addition to antipsychotic medications, other drugs that may be prescribed (depending on symptoms) to a person with schizophrenia may include: Antidepressant medicationsAnti-anxiety medicationsMood stabilizersSleeping medicationDrugs to combat side effects of antipsychotic medications Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychological treatment shown to be effective for a wide range of mental health problems, including: DepressionAnxiety disorderSubstance use disorderEating disordersSevere mental illness CBT is a type of treatment modality that can help people who have schizophrenia in many ways, including helping a person: Identify unhealthy patterns of thoughtChange troublesome thoughtsEmploy a variety of various coping tools (such as journaling, mindfulness, and more)Utilize role-play to practice skills learned Family Education and Support Family education and support are aimed at helping family members and close friends of those with schizophrenia cope with the many issues involved in living with or interacting with a person with severe mental illness. This type of treatment can include many different types of modalities including: Marital counselingGroup therapyEducational groupsIndividual therapySupport groups Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) Coordinated specialty care (CSC) is a type of treatment that offers a multidisciplinary approach to supporting those in the early stage of schizophrenia. Treatment modalities that may be offered as part of a CSC program include: Employment supportEducation (for school or job training)Medication managementCase managementFamily educationFamily support Substance Use Treatment Because a large number of people with schizophrenia have been found to have a substance use disorder, a program that addresses both the mental illness and the substance use may be recommended. This is often referred to as mental illness chemical dependency (MICD) or dual diagnosis treatment. Using substances or drinking alcohol can worsen symptoms of differentiated types of schizophrenia, so it’s vital to address any problems a person has with substance use. When to Call a Doctor If a person with schizophrenia begins experiencing symptoms that worsen and/or starts having very active hallucinations or delusions, it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional or another healthcare provider. Call 911 or seek emergency medical intervention if the person is talking about suicide or homicide, or has had a suicide attempt. Seek Help If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. Coping Helping a loved one who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia is no small undertaking. Keep in mind that there are many sources of support available. If your loved one has substance abuse and schizophrenia, you can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357. Other support networks include: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-6264Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America: 1-800-493-2094 9 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. American Psychiatric Association (APA). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed, text revision. Washington, D.C.; 2022. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Schizophrenia. Iritani S. What happens in the brain of schizophrenia patients? An investigation from the viewpoint of neuropathology. Nagoya J Med Sci. 2013;75(1-2):11-28. National Institute of Mental Health. Schizophrenia. Cleveland Clinic. Schizophrenia. NYU Langone Health. Diagnosing schizophrenia. Davidson M. Cognitive impairment as a diagnostic criterion and treatment target in schizophrenia. World Psychiatry. 2019;18(2):171-172. doi:10.1002/wps.20651 Read J, Williams J. Positive and negative effects of antipsychotic medication: an international online survey of 832 recipients. Current Drug Safety. doi:10.2174/1574886314666190301152734 American Psychological Association. What is cognitive behavioral therapy?. By Sherry Christiansen Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer's research. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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