What are the most common symptoms of schizophrenia?

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The symptoms of Schizophrenia have been classified into what has been called positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms are those that can be defined as being in excess of normal functioning and that represent a complete change in behaviour and these include hallucinations and delusions. Positive symptoms are much more dramatic than negative symptoms.

People with Schizophrenia will often have periods where the positive symptoms are particularly severe and this is known as a psychotic episode. The combination of hallucinations and delusions often results in bizarre behaviour as the individual loses touch with reality.

It’s important to note that Schizophrenia is still poorly understood and no two people will have the same set of symptoms to the same degree. However, Schizophrenia is most commonly characterised by negative symptoms with psychotic episodes involving hallucinations, delusions or a combination of both.

How to recognise hallucinations?

Hallucinations can involve any one of the senses and can be defined as hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, or smelling something that is not there. Hearing voices is the most common type of hallucination in Schizophrenia. These voices are often critical or compelling the individual to do something or carry out certain instructions.

How to recognise delusions?

Delusions can be described as having an absolute belief in something that is simply not true and which is obvious to everyone else except the person suffering from Schizophrenia. Delusions can involve just about anything but the two most common types are paranoid delusions where the individual believes he or she is being plotted against, spied on or that their thoughts are being controlled in some way, and delusions of grandeur where an individual believes that they have super powers or are incredibly important or famous.

Negative symptoms

Negative symptoms will often precede a psychotic episode, possibly by years. Some people with Schizophrenia might only have negative symptoms. They are much less obvious and dramatic than positive symptoms and therefore much harder to treat and include lack of emotion (faces can become expressionless and voices monotonous), speech and thinking can become slower, and there will often be a withdrawal from social contact and a general disinterest in life.

I’ve had one psychotic episode, will I have another?

According to the National Health Service in the UK, research has shown that 20 percent of people with Schizophrenia will experience one psychotic episode and never have another. However half of those with Schizophrenia will have another episode within a couple of years and around 30 percent will continue to have symptoms but how severe those symptoms are will vary over time. Of all those with Schizophrenia, around 20 percent will not respond well to treatment and will therefore require long term support.

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