Simple schizophrenia was a historic diagnosis referring to symptoms that included a blunting of emotions and a lack of motivation. It was a subtype of schizophrenia but it is no longer an official classification.

The subtype included people who primarily experienced negative schizophrenia symptoms rather than psychotic symptoms. However, there was debate among the scientific community over whether symptoms of schizophrenia occurred in this way.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental health condition that affects thoughts, behaviors, and feelings.

This article will explore this former subtype of schizophrenia. It will also describe the causes of schizophrenia and how doctors diagnose and treat it.

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Simple schizophrenia was a possible subtype of schizophrenia characterized by negative symptoms.

Healthcare professionals in the United States currently use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR) to diagnose mental health conditions and inform treatment.

Older versions of the DSM included several subtypes of schizophrenia that doctors would use in diagnosing the condition.

The DSM-4 mentioned simple schizophrenia as a proposed diagnosis for further research. However, the DSM-5-TR does not include simple schizophrenia or any other subtypes of the condition.

Many countries outside the U.S. use the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 11th revision (ICD-11) to diagnose mental health conditions. The ICD-11 also does not include the simple schizophrenia subtype, although it was present in the 10th revision.

There is still some debate over whether the subtype exists. The clustering of symptoms involved in the classification is rare and includes symptoms that substantially overlap with other conditions.

Learn more about schizophrenia.

Simple schizophrenia involved a person primarily experiencing negative schizophrenia symptoms.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, these can include:

  • loss of motivation to start or complete daily activities
  • loss of enjoyment of daily activities
  • talking with a monotone voice and using minimal facial expressions
  • withdrawing from social settings or interactions
  • lacking energy for activities

The ICD-10, which doctors no longer use, suggested people with simple schizophrenia developed the above symptoms without having experienced any overt psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions.

It also stated that the negative symptoms worsened slowly over time and impacted social functioning.

The symptoms of simple schizophrenia overlapped with other conditions, such as depression.

Learn more about the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

The causes of schizophrenia are still unclear. The condition is complex and likely the result of multiple causes that may vary from person to person.

The National Alliance of Mental Illness suggests that some possible causes include:

  • Genetics: Several genetic factors may combine to influence the onset of schizophrenia. People with close relatives who have schizophrenia are more likely to develop the condition.
  • Environment: Certain environmental factors may increase the risk of schizophrenia, such as exposure to viruses or malnutrition.
  • Brain chemistry: People with schizophrenia may have imbalances of certain chemicals that affect brain functioning, such as neurotransmitters.
  • Substance misuse: Some drugs could increase the risk of schizophrenia. One example is cannabis.

Learn more about the causes of schizophrenia.

Simple schizophrenia is no longer a subtype of the condition that doctors can diagnose.

People experiencing symptoms that fit the former subtype may receive a different diagnosis, such as schizophrenia or depression.

Diagnosing schizophrenia

Healthcare professionals diagnose schizophrenia by assessing symptoms and a person’s medical history. A psychiatrist will perform a psychiatric evaluation by asking questions about thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.

Psychiatrists in the U.S. use the DSM-5-TR in assessing symptoms to diagnose schizophrenia. The manual requires two or more of the following to be present for a substantial period of a month for a diagnosis of schizophrenia:

  • delusions
  • hallucinations
  • disorganized speech
  • disorganized behavior or catatonia, which refers to someone staying in one position for long periods without responding
  • negative symptoms

There are no diagnostic tests or scans for diagnosing schizophrenia. However, healthcare professionals may administer certain tests to rule out the presence of other conditions, such as an MRI scan to check for brain injuries.

There are no formal treatment guidelines for people with simple schizophrenia as it is no longer a diagnostic category in the U.S. However, there are general guidelines for the treatment of schizophrenia.

Although there is currently no cure for schizophrenia, healthcare professionals may recommend the following to help people with schizophrenia manage their condition:

  • Antipsychotic medications: These help reduce psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations.
  • Psychosocial treatments: These include a range of therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Family support: This can involve educating family members to support people with schizophrenia.
  • Coordinated specialty care: This involves multidisciplinary teams working together with the person with schizophrenia to make treatment decisions.

Learn more about treatment for schizophrenia.

Simple schizophrenia shared several symptoms with depression. For example, people with depression may experience a loss of interest or pleasure in activities, a lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating.

Schizophrenia more broadly relates to other psychotic conditions, such as bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder experience depressive symptoms that could be similar to the former diagnosis of simple schizophrenia. However, people with bipolar disorder also experience psychotic symptoms present in schizophrenia, such as delusions.

Experts recommend anyone experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia or depression speak with a healthcare professional. Doctors can diagnose symptoms and recommend treatment options if necessary.

Simple schizophrenia was a subtype of schizophrenia. Doctors in the U.S. follow diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5-TR and do not currently use this classification.

It included people who primarily experienced negative schizophrenia symptoms, such as loss of motivation or interest in daily activities. People would typically not experience other symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations.

There is debate over whether simple schizophrenia should be a diagnosis. The cluster of symptoms it involved is rare and overlaps with other conditions, such as depression.

People with schizophrenia may receive a combination of treatments, such as antipsychotic medications, psychotherapy, and community care. There are no formal guidelines for treating simple schizophrenia, as it is not an official diagnosis. Anyone experiencing negative schizophrenia symptoms may benefit from seeing a healthcare professional.