Symptoms of schizophrenia vary widely. Some individuals with schizophrenia suffer from hallucinations, while others exhibit paranoia or anxiety. At the root of all schizophrenia symptoms is psychosis: an impaired ability to distinguish between real and imaginary perceptions.
Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia symptoms include so-called “positive” and “negative” symptoms. Positive symptoms are characterized by excessive mental and cognitive functioning, including hallucinations, paranoia and delusions. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia are typified by a loss of normal mental function, including a lack of emotions and loss of motivation. The specifics of schizophrenia treatment depend on which symptoms develop.
Positive Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Delusional thoughts are beliefs that cannot be changed by reason or evidence. Delusions often cause paranoia, as schizophrenics may believe that others are plotting to harm them. The delusions that trigger paranoia may appear bizarre. Believing that the television is sending controlling signals directly to the brain is one example of a schizophrenic delusion that induces paranoia. A distrust of family members or doctors often interferes with schizophrenia treatment.
Schizophrenia may cause delusions of grandeur. For example, people with schizophrenia may believe they’re a famous or important person. Again, any attempt to argue with the perception may trigger paranoia.
Hallucinations are sensory perceptions with no basis in reality. Hallucinations can affect any of the senses. Hearing voices is one of the most common hallucinations produced by schizophrenia. Voices may give instructions, carry on conversations, or plague individuals with criticism. Hallucinatory voices may also interfere with schizophrenia treatment by telling people to stop treatment.
Bizarre behavior is a typical symptom of schizophrenia. Schizophrenics are often severely agitated. Auditory hallucinations or paranoia may cause aggressive behavior, although actual violence rarely occurs. Individuals with schizophrenia may talk to themselves, neglect personal hygiene or act in a socially inappropriate manner. The severity of symptoms varies as the individual may seem normal and then suddenly become erratic.
Negative Schizophrenia Symptoms
Negative symptoms of schizophrenia are often less noticeable than positive symptoms, but are just as debilitating. Negative symptoms include “asociality” â€” an inability to empathize â€” dulled speech and “flattened affect,” or deadened emotions.
Schizophrenia shares symptoms with depression. Individuals with schizophrenia often become socially withdrawn and experience a severe loss of motivation. Other schizophrenia symptoms include indifference, lowered work or school performance and impaired social functioning. Persons experiencing these symptoms may neglect personal hygiene and become unresponsive to their surroundings.
A flattened affect refers to an observable deadening of emotions. Symptoms include an overall lack of emotional expression and dulled speech that becomes monotonic due to low emotional levels. Other symptoms include vocabulary loss and limited word use.
Schizophrenia Symptoms and Perception of Reality
Hallucinations, delusional thoughts and paranoia distort a person’s perception of reality, resulting in fear, anxiety and confusion. Individuals with schizophrenia who experience hallucinations and paranoia may seem detached and preoccupied. Some may move or fidget constantly while those with severe symptoms may experience catatonia.
Successful schizophrenia treatment requires an understanding of an individual’s schizophrenia symptoms. Positive and negative schizophrenia symptoms respond to different schizophrenia treatment options. Paranoia and delusions increase the possibility of noncompliance, or refusal to accept schizophrenia treatment.
Fauci, A., Braunwald, E., Isselbacher, K., Wilson, J., Martin, J., Kasper, D. …