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Schizophrenia is predominantly characterized by symptoms of delusions and hallucinations. Living between the blur lines of reality and your mind’s game can be debilitating. Failure to treat negative symptoms of schizophrenia can cause you the chance of living a fully normal life. 

What are the negative symptoms of schizophrenia? How can you manage the negative symptoms of schizophrenia? Read along with this article and learn more about the negative and positive symptoms of schizophrenia and learn how to manage them. 

Increasing your knowledge about this certain mental disorder is essential in knowing when we should seek professional help. Schizophrenia should not be taken lightly as it could permanently damage social relationships and a shorter lifespan.

Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is considered a serious mental health condition that can affect a person’s behavior and social functioning. The average age of onset is during late adolescence and early adulthood, where the child’s brain development is at a critical stage and vulnerable.

The hormonal changes during puberty have a lot to do with our brain’s activity during mental shifts. At this age, our brain’s maturational events interact with our congenital defects that cause the onset of psychiatric disorders.

What are the negative and positive symptoms of Schizophrenia? This mental disorder is characterized by negative, positive, and cognitive symptoms:

Positive Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Positive symptoms of people with schizophrenia are often highly exaggerated perceptions and ideas that are about to happen. These are events that prove that a person with schizophrenia would not be able to tell what’s real and not. The word “positive” doesn’t mean that the signs are good; it rather means the presence of symptoms. These symptoms may include:

Hallucinations

One of the severe symptoms of people with schizophrenia is hearing, smelling, feeling, and seeing things that no one else does. These people often report hearing voices in their head telling them what to do or voices that can be demanding. With visual hallucinations, some see lights, patterns, or people that do not actually exist.

Delusions

Delusions are beliefs that other people may find strange and can be easily proved wrong. A person with schizophrenia can sometimes be delusional, thinking that they are someone of importance, like a president, a famous actor, or someone with superpowers.

Movement Disorders

People with Schizophrenia sometimes suffer from a neurological condition that causes increased voluntary and involuntary movements. Sometimes they repeat the same movement over and over again, and others can’t even maintain proper eye contact. Movement disorders can also slow down or reduce movement, and some patients can sit still for hours without moving. Experts called this state catatonic.

Disorganized Thinking

This type of symptom can be extremely averting, making it impossible for people with schizophrenia to express what they are thinking. This symptom can lead to a series of disjoint thoughts, making it difficult for others to understand what they say. There are also times that the thinking process will come to a complete stop and block out the language structure.

Antipsychotic drugs and psychotherapy are needed to treat positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Treating patients who suffer from positive symptoms involves a multidisciplinary approach. Therapy is an important step and crucial in treating people with mental disorders and their family members.

Cognitive Symptoms

These are kind of symptoms that focuses on problems with memory and concentration. Just like the other two types of symptoms, this can also be disabling since the condition can cause permanent impairment to a person’s ability to receive instructions. Just like the negative symptoms, onset can be unrecognized at first and appear after several episodes of psychosis. Here are some common conditions that are brought about by these symptoms:

  • Memory problems: They have difficulty recalling important information or events that happened a while ago.
  • Difficulty maintaining focused attention and sometimes appearing “spaced out”, especially during a conversation.
  • A lack of insight: Schizophrenics usually have a cognitive blind spot that inhibits their ability to understand that they are ill.

Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Negative symptoms are also known as deficit schizophrenia symptoms. The distinction between the negative and positive symptoms of schizophrenia is based on clinical observations. The concept of medical illness having negative and positive symptoms has been around for a very long time but has been applied to schizophrenia in the 1970s.

Negative and positive symptoms do not mean the “good” and the “bad” symptoms. The negative symptoms are considered deficits in an individual’s normal functioning. It is the absence of what is present in normal people. These deficit symptoms are :

  • Decreased in motivation
  • Decreased joy
  • Diminished expression
  • Absence of emotional response
  • Absence of facial expressions
  • Decreased interest in the world
  • Disorganized speech
  • Difficulty in sustaining activities
  • Lethargy and apathy

Experiencing a negative symptom of schizophrenia can be debilitating and scary at the same time. If a loved one is struggling with negative symptoms, then immediate help from a professional mental health provider is needed to complete daily tasks.

Negative symptoms describe behaviors that an individual used to have before the onset of schizophrenia. Now they no longer have it from their psyche. Treating severe negative symptoms in schizophrenia may involve psychotic medications and unconditional emotional support from their loved ones.

Diagnosis of schizophrenia can be challenging and can only be done through psychiatric evaluation and a clinical assessment interview. The treatment process may include therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that is helpful in treating negative symptoms in schizophrenia. It is more effective when combined with pharmacological treatment in alleviating depressive symptoms.

8 Principal Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The negative symptoms are the key element of schizophrenia. They are associated with a lack of emotion and a poor functional outcome. These symptoms may appear with or without the positive symptoms and can be difficult to recognize as a part of schizophrenia. 

Apathy

Apathy is a common negative symptom that is defined as a multidimensional syndrome of mental health problems. It is composed of behavioral, emotional, and cognitive facets that impair motivation and goal setting. Apathy is the lack of motivation to do something or the absence of emotions and concern. The indifference could leave a person feeling detached from the world around them.

Blunted Affect or Incongruous Emotional Expression

People who are experiencing persistent negative symptoms of schizophrenia may have difficulty or inappropriately displaying their emotions. A blunt affect means the absence of reaction to good news or bad news. They are incapable of pulling out emotions about the things that used to make them happy or sad. For example, a death of a loved one could simply be recounted as a factual detail but never tends to make them feel sad.

Speech Reduction

People with schizophrenia appear to have little to no interest in making conversations and may answer questions in brief responses. This could be a cause of alogia. It involves the disruption of one’s thought process that could lead to disorganized thinking and issues with verbal fluency. This could also be a result of the digression of the brain’s semantic store, the area that processes the language and the meaning of words.

Social Withdrawal

Schizophrenics tend to isolate themselves. Social isolation is defined as voluntary confinement prolonged in time that results in the disruption or cessation of any form of social contact and relationship. Social isolation can be in different forms. The intensive use of video games and too much time surfing the internet is an indicator of social withdrawal and can become a real addiction.

Attention Deficit

People with schizophrenia have difficulty understanding or concentrating even with simple tasks. Impaired attention in schizophrenia is considered a core cognitive abnormality. Attention is considered a central mechanism that controls the process of information. It is a predictor of problem-solving skills and motor skill ability.

Anhedonia

Anhedonia is a mental health condition that is characterized by the inability to find pleasure in the good things in life. It means that you are in pursuit of finding pleasure and can’t feel happiness in things that make others happy. 

People who are schizophrenic describe this experience as having the feeling of emptiness and being devoid of emotions. Physical anhedonia is characterized by an individual’s inability to experience pleasure from sensory or physical things that others perceive as pleasurable—for example, taking a warm bath, eating, or engaging in sexual intercourse.

Sexual Problems

Decreased libido and sexual drive are some of schizophrenia’s common negative symptoms. Research shows that people with schizophrenia are reluctant to discuss sexual issues and are unable to manage their sexual drives. Men may experience having problems with erections and reaching orgasm. 

In some studies, some schizophrenic patients undergo neuroleptic treatment to treat sexual dysfunction. The treatment focuses on the restoration of erectile dysfunction, orgasmic and sexual satisfaction. An open discussion about their sexual issues can improve a patient’s compliance and comprehension.

Lethargy

People with schizophrenia often find it difficult to be involved with light activities and have a profound lack of energy. They usually spend most of the day in bed and in isolation. This trait makes it difficult for them to maintain a daily routine making personal hygiene a challenge.

Deficit Schizophrenia is a condition where at least 2 of the negative symptom is present. It is a disease separate from the nondeficit forms of schizophrenia. It is sometimes present during episodes of positive symptoms. Certain criteria designate schizophrenia with deficit syndrome.

Secondary Negative Symptoms

The Negative symptoms of schizophrenia can be divided into primary and secondary negative symptoms. The primary negative symptoms are more intrinsic in schizophrenia. A negative symptom assessment is a tool that is used to recognize and identify whether the negative symptoms experienced by the patient are primary or secondary. 

A Brief Negative Symptom Scale is a 13 item instrument used to measure each of Schizophrenia’s symptom domains. The Positive and Negative Syndrome scale, on the other hand, was designed to measure the symptoms experienced by the subjects when medicated with antipsychotic agents.

Based on research and clinical trials, negative symptoms are associated with poor quality of life and functionality. Compared to primary negative symptoms, secondary negative symptoms are more prevalent and often have a clearly defined cause that is easier to treat. 

The study of Schizophrenia’s secondary symptoms could lead to drug development, differentiate pathways affecting physiology, or a pathophysiological model of schizophrenia. Negative symptoms are classic when talking about schizophrenia. These symptoms can greatly affect a person’s ability to experience life-fulfilling activities that some people usually take for granted.

Diagnosis and treatment of the negative symptoms can really be tricky due to the nature of the symptoms. Pharmaceutical drugs work best with positive symptoms but could also cause negative symptom severity. That is why the most effective treatment is a combination of therapy, Antipsychotic drugs, and social support. Here are some of the medications that are involved with the drug therapy :

  • Atypical Antipsychotic: The first line of medication used to address negative symptoms and other severe mental illness
  • Typical Antipsychotics: Used to treat hallucinations and delusions. However, this medication has certain neurological adverse effects, such as Parkinsonism, that can worsen secondary negative symptoms in schizophrenia.
  • Antidepressants: It may not be a cure, but combining antipsychotic drugs with an antidepressant is much more effective than the antipsychotics alone.
  • Psychosocial Interventions: Family psychoeducation, behavioral therapy, and support.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If a person experiences the negative symptoms of this mental disorder, it does not necessarily mean that you have schizophrenia. The symptoms could also be caused by various factors or other medical conditions. 

Self-help strategies such as modification of diet, exercising, and managing stress could e a cornerstone in dealing with schizophrenia. But, encouragement and support from a family or social group are essential for a faster recovery.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness, and it could affect every aspect of a person’s life. If not treated properly, symptoms could worsen and can prevent a person from living a normal life.

When people with schizophrenia experience these kinds of negative symptoms and refuse to seek medical attention, they could become a threat to themselves and others. A psychotherapeutic approach conducted by a mental health professional can be helpful in this kind of situation.

Schedule an Appointment With KCC Now!

Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC) has a team of accomplished therapists and counselors who are here to listen and help you cope with the symptoms of these types of mental illnesses. 

Consider joining a support group for a faster recovery. Our team has licensed professionals who are trained and experienced to cater to these kinds of problems. Book an appointment now through our website’s KCC Direct Services. 

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