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What Are Positive And Negative Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

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Difference Between Positive And Negative Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Among schizophrenias many types of symptomscognitive, neurological, behavioral, and emotionalare categories known as positive symptoms of schizophrenia and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Most schizophrenia symptoms in the DSM-5 fall into these two categories, and its the positive symptoms and negative symptoms that are the defining features of the mental illness we call schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is an illness of the brain with a whole constellation of characteristics. The symptoms represent a range of experiences someone living with this serious mental illness can face. Everyone will possess some combination of symptoms, but no one has all of them .

Clinical Presentation Diagnosis And Identification Of Negative Symptoms

It is generally accepted that negative symptoms include 5 key constructs,61 which can be further categorized into 2 independent factors .2,62,63

Key negative symptom constructs. Blunted affect=decreased expression of emotion alogia=reduction in quantity of words spoken avolition=reduced initiation and persistence of goal-directed activity due to decreased motivation asociality=reduced social interactions and initiative due to decreased interest in relationships with others anhedonia=reduced experience of pleasure during an activity or in anticipation of an activity.

Although the presence of negative symptoms is not mandatory for a diagnosis of schizophrenia, negative symptoms , are 1 of the 5 symptom criteria taken into consideration in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .64 Diminished expression, which includes reduction in the expression of facial emotions, eye contact, and speech intonation, and reduction in head, hands, and face movement that gives emotional emphasis to speech, is generally observable during a clinical interview. Avolition, indicating decrease in self-motivated and self-initiated purposeful activities, requires inquiry into patients behaviors outside the interview setting. A level of functioning in work, school, relationships, or self-care that is markedly below the level that has previously been achieved is also diagnostic and suggests the presence of avolition and the reduced drive to pursue goal-directed behavior.

Types Of Negative Symptoms

The first step in managing the negative symptoms of schizophrenia is to understand the different types, which typically have one of four defining features:

  • Affective deficits:lack of facial expression, eye contact, gestures, and variations in voice pattern
  • Avolition deficits: severe lack of motivation or initiative to accomplish purposeful tasks
  • Communicative deficits:speech lacking in quantity or information
  • Relational deficits:lack of interest in social activities and relationships

Because negative symptoms can include deficits in cognitive, emotional, and social abilities, there can be a large number of potential symptoms. The most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes negative symptoms as restricted emotional expression and avolition, and includes the following five types.

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The Neurobiology Of Negative Symptoms

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia are likely to be the result of irregularities of distributed neural networks , as opposed to the disruption of any discrete region of the brain.26 Although several hypotheses may be implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and negative symptoms, the dopamine and glutamate hypotheses are among those that are best supported by current evidence. The dopaminergic hypothesis of schizophrenia proposes that positive symptoms are the result of hyperactivity of dopaminergic neurotransmission in limbic pathways, while negative symptoms, loss of motivation, and impairment in cognition are thought to arise from hypodopaminergic functioning in the frontal lobe and additional mesolimbic structures.30,31 However, recent imaging studies suggest that abnormal dopamine function in schizophrenia may be in the dorsal rather than in the limbic striatum.32

What Is Schizophrenia Conceptualized As

Schizophrenia: a clinical overview

Like other disorders, DSM-IV defines schizophrenia as a discrete category rather than a quantitative dimension, despite its qualification that there is no assumption that each category of mental disorder is a completely discrete entity with absolute boundaries dividing it from other mental disorders or from no mental …

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How Is Schizophrenia Diagnosed

You may be diagnosed with schizophrenia if you experience at least two of the following symptoms for at least 1 month, and signs of the condition possibly in milder form persist for at least 6 months. Also, at least one symptom must be from among the first three on this list:

  • delusions
  • disorganized speech, such as frequent derailment or incoherence
  • grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
  • negative symptoms, such as reduced emotional expression or total lack of motivation

To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, your healthcare provider will also consider what degree symptoms negatively affect different aspects of your life, such as your work, academic performance, interpersonal relationships, or self-care.

Your medical professional will also rule out any other possible causes of your symptoms, such as schizoaffective disorder, mood disorder with psychotic features, autism spectrum disorder, a general medical condition, or substance use disorder.

Keep in mind that about


If you experience delusions, you believe an untruth.

For instance, you may think that youre in danger and someone wants to hurt you when theres no evidence to that effect.


If you see, hear, smell, taste, or feel something that isnt real, youre experiencing hallucinations.

For example, people with schizophrenia may hear voices.

Disorganized thinking

Your way of thinking may appear illogical to other people.

Abnormal body movements

At What Age Is Schizophrenia Usually Diagnosed

Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40. It is possible to live well with schizophrenia.

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Why Are They Called Positive Symptoms In Schizophrenia

The positive symptoms are so called becausethey are thinking or behaviour that the person with schizophrenia did not have before they became ill and so can be thought of as being added to their psyche. Positive symptoms include hallucinations such as hearing voices and delusions such as paranoid thoughts.

What Are Positive And Negative Symptoms

What are Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder?

Positive and negative symptoms are medical terms for two groups of symptoms in schizophrenia.

Positive symptoms add. Positive symptoms include hallucinations , delusions , and repetitive movements that are hard to control.

Negative symptoms take away. Negative symptoms include the inability to show emotions, apathy, difficulties talking, and withdrawing from social situations and relationships.

There is also a third group of symptoms, usually called cognitive symptoms. This includes anything related to thinking, such as disorganized thoughts, memory problems, and difficulties with focus and attention.

Where can I learn more?

About the author

The Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing a mental illness through public education, community-based research, advocacy, and direct services. Visit

Q& A is for readers who want to take charge of their well-being, support a friend or loved one, find good help, or just learn more about mental health and substance use. Here, the information and resource experts at HeretoHelp will answer the questions that were asked most often. We’ll offer tips and information, and we’ll connect you with help in BC, Canada. If you have a question youd like to ask, email us at , tweet , or log in to HeretoHelp and post a comment on this page.

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What Is Deficit Schizophrenia

Deficit schizophrenia, which is not synonymous with deficit symptoms or negative symptoms, is diagnosed when patients have:

  • At least two out of the six negative symptoms
  • The symptoms are persistent, or present for at least one year, and the patient experiences them even during times of clinical stability
  • The symptoms are primary, or not due to other causes like medication or other conditions

People with deficit schizophrenia have a poorer response to treatment, social and occupational functioning, and overall quality of life than people with non-deficit schizophrenia.

Relationship Between The Brain And Negative Symptoms

Research has described how brain chemistry and malfunction seems to be a contributing factor to developing schizophrenia. However, it is said that schizophrenia affects the interaction between the centers of judgement and planning in the pre-frontal cortex and the centers of emotion and memory in the temporal lobes and limbic system .

One of the theories for schizophrenia indicates that the brains noise level rises when the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate becomes overactive in the prefrontal cortex and at the same time stimulates receptors for another neurotransmitter, dopamine, in the limbic region .

In accordance with this theory, glutamate activity seems to result in the manifestation of negative and cognitive symptoms , and psychotic symptoms seems to be a result of dopaminergic activity in the limbic system.

The reward circuits are said to be located in the limbic system, this is why patients with schizophrenia are said to have a malfunction in their reward system when they seem to want too little, related to volition. This is why the original antipsychotic drugs targeted the nerve receptors in the limbic system, suppressing the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

According to, All of them are roughly equally good at suppressing psychotic symptoms and equally ineffective against negative symptoms whether the source of these symptoms is schizophrenia or another disorder.

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Negative Symptoms Of Schizophrenia: Things That Might Stop Happening

Negative symptoms refer to an absence or lack of normal mental function involving thinking, behavior, and perception. You might notice:

  • Lack of pleasure. The person may not seem to enjoy anything anymore. A doctor will call this anhedonia.
  • Trouble with speech. They might not talk much or show any feelings. Doctors call this alogia.
  • Flattening: The person with schizophrenia might seem like they have a terrible case of the blahs. When they talk, their voice can sound flat, like they have no emotions. They may not smile normally or show usual facial emotions in response to conversations or things happening around them. A doctor might call this affective flattening.
  • Withdrawal. This might include no longer making plans with friends or becoming a hermit. Talking to the person can feel like pulling teeth: If you want an answer, you have to really work to pry it out of them. Doctors call this apathy.
  • Struggling with the basics of daily life. They may stop bathing or taking care of themselves.
  • No follow-through. People with schizophrenia have trouble staying on schedule or finishing what they start. Sometimes they can’t get started at all. A doctor might call this avolition.

Depression has some of the same symptoms, too. They can be hard to spot, especially in teens, because even healthy teens can have big emotional swings between highs and lows.

How Can You Treat Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia Nursing Care and Management

Schizophrenia treatment, as of now, usually continues for lifelong, right from the time of diagnosis. Treatment for schizophrenia needs to be continued even when the schizophrenia symptoms seem to have subsided or faded. Schizophrenia treatment is generally a combination of medication, coordinated specialty care services and psychotherapy. A team that comprises of a psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse, social worker and psychologist should guide the schizophrenia treatment.

Medications acts as a foundation in schizophrenia treatment. Antipsychotic medication and anti-tremor medications are commonly prescribed to schizophrenic patients. The combinations of various neuro-psychotic medications as well as doses are decided based on the severity of the schizophrenia symptoms.

Along with medications, schizophrenic patients also need strong social support. This is also referred to as psychological intervention and following are some of these therapies:

Family Therapy in Schizophrenia: This therapy educates the family on how to support and deal with the family member suffering from schizophrenia.

Individual Therapy for Treating Schizophrenia: Regular psychotherapy can normalize thought patterns in a schizophrenic patient to a great extent. Individual therapy also includes teaching the patients on how to identify warning signs of a schizophrenia relapse, cope up with stress. It also helps the individuals to be able to manage their illness overall.

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Causes Of Negative Symptoms

The cause of negative symptoms is not clear. While some studies say these deficits run in families, there is no known genetic association for negative symptoms or deficit schizophrenia.

Interestingly, while winter birth increases the risk for schizophrenia, people with schizophrenia born in the summer appear to be at higher risk for negative symptoms.

What Is Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People who have schizophrenia may lose touch with reality and see or hear things that aren’t there, believe things that aren’t true, and/or not display emotions.

Its not always possible to tell if someone is schizophrenic, but there are certain signs and symptoms that are often present in people who have schizophrenia.

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When To See A Doctor

Symptoms of schizophrenia, especially episodes of psychosis, may lead you to feel distressed.

If you believe that you have developed symptoms of schizophrenia, speak with a healthcare professional. The sooner you begin your personalized treatment plan, the better you may feel.

If youre concerned because someone you care about shows signs of schizophrenia, encourage them to seek help. Support from family and friends can be vital for people with schizophrenia.

If you or someone close to your child, such as a teacher, notices early symptoms of schizophrenia, speak with your family physician. You can ask for a referral to a mental health professional who specializes in children with schizophrenia.

Keep in mind that with treatment and support, youll be able to control and reduce the severity of schizophrenia symptoms.

The Present Diagnostic Classifications: Dsm

Symptoms of Schizophrenia Positive and Negative Video & Lesson Transcript Education Portal

There are both similarities and differences in the way the two classifications define schizophrenia. In contrast to DSM-IV, which provides a single set of operational diagnostic criteria for all users, ICD-10 was designed as a family of inter-related versions addressing different users. While the ICD-10 volume Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines is the conceptual core of the system, the ICD-10 Diagnostic Criteria for Research and the WHO Guide to Mental Health in Primary Care are derivatives for use in specific context. A comparison of the two sets of diagnostic criteria is provided in Tables IV and V.

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Treatment For Positive Symptoms In Schizophrenia

Atypical antipsychotics typically do a good job at reducing the rate at which an individual experiences positive symptoms of schizophrenia. This is because they block dopamine receptors from being flooded with dopamine in the brain. There really arent any other current ways to treat these positive symptoms in schizophrenia other than utilize the pharmaceutical technology that is available.

As science advances and we get a better understanding of the specifics of schizophrenia, we should be able to develop better treatment options. Until then, you may want to check out some natural remedies for schizophrenia that may be used as an effective augmentation strategy to reduce symptoms.

Get The Help You Need

Your brain is an organ, and just like any organ, when its not functioning the way its supposed to, medical treatment is essential. Our team is skilled in combining therapeutic approaches that work for your needs and your symptoms.

To learn more about schizophrenia management, book an appointment online or over the phone with Marcann Mental Health Services today. Our offices in Glendale and Phoenix, Arizona, maintain hours six days a week, and we also offer telehealth services so you can get the help you need wherever you are.

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Negative Symptoms Of Schizophrenia: Understanding Them

What are Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia?

Nowadays we tend to think of schizophrenia as having two types of symptoms that we call positive and negative. The concept of positive and negative symptoms of mental health has been around for a long time but was first applied to schizophrenia in the 1970s.

The positive symptoms are so called because they are thinking or behaviour that the person with schizophrenia did not have before they became ill and so can be thought of as being added to their psyche. Positive symptoms include hallucinations such as hearing voices and delusions such as paranoid thoughts.1

Negative symptoms are so called because they describe thoughts or behaviour that the person used to have before they became ill but now no longer have or have to a lesser extent and so have been lost or taken away from their psyche. It describes normal aspects of the persons behaviour that they no longer have. Negative symptoms can include lethargy and apathy.1

In the past different terminology has been used. People experiencing prominently positive symptoms were described as acute or having Type 1 schizophrenia whilst those experiencing negative symptoms were thought of as having chronic or Type 2 schizophrenia.2 Nowadays the terms positive and negative tend to be used more.

There are eight principal negative symptoms. These are 3,4,5:

1. Apathy

2. Absent, blunted or incongruous emotional responses

3. Reductions in speech

4. Social withdrawal

5. Impaired attention

Positive & Negative Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

Positive and Negative Symptoms

Fact Checked

Schizophrenia is a chronic and disabling brain disorder that usually manifest between the ages of 13 and 25, with males typically displaying symptoms earlier than females. Individuals experience profound distorted perceptions, and thus are not grounded in reality. Schizophrenia characteristics include a distorted perception of the world, distorted thought and speech, as well as a disturbed sense of self and safety. Schizophrenia is not a split or multiple personality rather, it is categorized as a type of psychosis, which is a severe and devastating mental illness.

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Common Misconception: People With Schizophrenia Are Dangerous

The vast majority of persons with schizophrenia are not aggressive and are more frequently the victims of violence than the perpetrators.

Though hostility and aggression can be associated with schizophrenia, spontaneous or random assault is uncommon.

There is no need to be fearful of a person with schizophrenia.

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