Negative Schizophrenia Symptoms

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Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness affecting around 1% of the population in general and for which there is currently no cure. The symptoms of Schizophrenia are divided into what are known as ‘positive’ symptoms (hallucinations and delusions) and ‘negative symptoms’. They are called negative symptoms because their presence is indicated by the absence of what can be described as normal behaviour and emotion.

•    Lack of facial expressions, person may sit there apparently emotionless
•    A ‘flattening’ of the emotions
•    Staring into space for hours, blank look in the eyes
•    Few if any gestures
•    Monotone speech that is slow and monosyllabic
•    Disinterest in everything and everyone around them
•    Inability to take pleasure in activities
•    Avoidance of social situations preferring to be alone
•    Lack of spontaneity and a great deal of time spent doing nothing at all
•    Other bizarre or strange behaviours such as laughing inappropriately

People displaying negative symptoms often have great difficulty concentrating on anything, making any plans or organising their thoughts. They may neglect themselves and appear to withdraw inside. Although it may appear on the outside that they lack emotion and the desire to do anything this may not be what is felt on the inside. For example, it can be difficult to differentiate between a person who doesn’t talk because they don’t want to talk and a person who does not talk because they have difficulty finding the words to express themselves.

Obviously the presence of hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there) and delusions (believing in things that are obviously untrue), is a lot more apparent to other people and are therefore spotted much more quickly and in a way are easier to deal with. Negative symptoms on the other hand, particularly if they are mild, can be more difficult to identify as needing urgent treatment but can still have a devastating effect on just about every area of a person’s life.

Hallucinations and delusions or positive symptoms can usually be controlled quite effectively by antipsychotic medication. The same cannot be said for negative symptoms which can prevent a person with Schizophrenia beginning and maintaining relationships, keeping a job, controlling their finances, and generally living an independent and satisfying life. Although some antipsychotics may show some benefit for negative symptoms in some people with Schizophrenia, negative symptoms are mainly dealt with by some kind of psychosocial therapy or possibly by anti-depressants.

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