Symptoms of Schizophrenia

There is currently no physical or laboratory tests that can objectively diagnose a patient with schizophrenia. Instead, a psychiatrist usually determines the presence of the disease through clinical symptoms, after other diseases with similar symptoms are ruled out. Below is information about common symptoms associated with schizophrenia, but remember that only a psychiatrist can make a diagnosis and start a treatment program.

Positive symptoms

People who are diagnosed with schizophrenia usually experience a combination of symptoms ranging from positive (what he would gain), negative (what he would lose), and cognitive (how the brain would be affected). The positive symptoms highlight a change in the usual thinking process. This includes delusions, hallucinations, and thought disorder.

Delusions are false beliefs out of context to their usual cultural or social ideas. A schizophrenic person, for instance, may think that his own movements are being controlled by someone else. Meanwhile, hallucination can appear as "voices" that speak directly to or about the patient without anyone being there, or seeing things that are not there. Thought disorders affect the person’s thinking patterns, making their speech difficult to follow and comprehend.

Negative symptoms

This type of symptoms shows a reduction or absence of usual mental functions of a person affected with schizophrenia. Negative symptoms include lack of energy, social withdrawal, lack of emotional reactivity, poverty of speech, and inability to experience pleasure. A schizophrenic tends to appear emotionally flat (unhappy yet not sad), tired, and unmotivated. He may also say very little, find social contact difficult, and may have difficulty getting out of bed.

Despite the appearance of blunted affect or flat emotions, recent studies indicate that there is often a normal or even heightened level of emotionality in schizophrenia, especially in response to stressful or negative events.

Disorganization syndrome

This symptom grouping commonly refers to cognitive effects of schizophrenia, including chaotic speech, thought, and behavior. The patient may also have difficulty concentrating and/ or following instructions, difficulty completing tasks, and memory problems.