Schizophrenia - Signs and Symptoms

What are the signs of schizophrenia?

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia and seek help early. The signs usually appear between ages 16 and 30. In rare cases, children can have schizophrenia too. Schizophrenia symptoms fall into three categories: positive, negative, and cognitive.

Positive symptoms

“Positive” symptoms are referred to as positive because the symptoms are additional behaviors not generally seen in healthy people. For some people, these symptoms come and go. For others, the symptoms become stable over time. These symptoms can be severe— but at other times—unnoticeable. Positive symptoms include:

Hallucinations: When a person sees, hears, smells, tastes, or feels things that are not real. Hearing voices is common for people with schizophrenia. People who hear voices may hear them for a long time before family or friends notice a problem.

Delusions: When a person believes things that are not true. For example, a person may believe that people on the radio and television are talking directly to him or her. Sometimes people who have delusions may believe that they are in danger or that others are trying to hurt them.

Thought disorders: When a person has ways of thinking that are odd or illogical. People with thought disorders may have trouble organizing their thoughts. Sometimes a person will stop talking in the middle of a thought or make up words that have no meaning.

Movement disorders: When a person exhibits abnormal body movements. A person may repeat certain motions over and over—this is called stereotypies. At the other extreme, a person may stop moving or talking for a while, which is a rare condition called catatonia.

  • Negative symptoms

    “Negative” symptoms refer to social withdrawal, difficulty showing emotions, or difficulty functioning normally. People with negative symptoms may need help with everyday tasks. Negative symptoms include:

    • Talking in a dull voice
    • Showing no facial expression, such as a smile or frown
    • Having trouble experiencing happiness
    • Having trouble planning and sticking with an activity, such as grocery shopping
    • Talking very little to other people, even when it is important

    Cognitive symptoms

    Cognitive symptoms are not easy to see, but they can make it hard for people to have a job or take care of themselves. The level of cognitive function is one of the best predictors of a person’s ability to improve how they function overall. Often, these symptoms are detected only when specific tests are performed. Cognitive symptoms include:

  • Difficulty processing information to make decisions
  • Problems using information immediately after learning it
  • Trouble paying attention

 

Resource: National Institute of Mental Health