Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Symptoms of schizophrenia have three different categories, namely; positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive symptoms. Among these, the negative symptoms of schizophrenia contribute more to the poor functionality and reduced quality of life of a schizophrenic patient. As opposed to the positive symptoms, the negative symptoms of schizophrenia are what we call the subtractions or the absence of characteristics from a normal person’s functionalities, or in other words, “missing traits”. These symptoms may appear for several months or even years before the positive symptoms appear.

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The Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The negative symptoms of schizophrenia are often times harder to detect or recognize and are commonly mistaken as symptoms of depression or other conditions. To understand more about these symptoms, here are their different natures:

Lack of emotional response

A person with schizophrenia can have lack of emotional response especially to people they don’t really know. They seem to appear uninterested, or at times, their facial expression seems blank which most psychiatrists refer to as a flat affect. This behavior leads to social withdrawal and isolation as evidenced by most patients preferring to stay at home, alone.

Social isolation

When a person loses contact with other people, this is what we call social isolation. It may be a result of social withdrawal, or the patient is simply avoiding any contact or communication with everyone else.

Loss of interest / motivation

This symptom refers to the lack of motivation in life or even lack of self care. Schizophrenic patients tend to neglect even their own personal hygiene. They don’t want to engage in different activities and they also lose interest in building relationships or even in sex.

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• The negative A’s: Alogia, Affective flattening, Avolition, and Anhedonia

These negative A’s are the four terms used by psychiatrists in describing the different negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

o Alogia refers to people with difficulties in communicating. They tend not to speak much about themselves or about anything.

o Affective flattening means to the lack of emotional expression.

o Avolition is the inability to initiate plans and motivate oneself.

o Anhedonia refers to the lack of interest to enjoy life.

Some negative symptoms shown by individuals with schizophrenia:

o They have a blank facial expression

o No interest in parties, dating or socializing with other people

o They don’t enjoy reading books, watching television, listening to music, no hobbies, and don’t like celebrations

o They are unable to plan, act and reach their goals

o They are not opinionated or have nothing to say at all

o They don’t display emotions or lacks response even at very emotional events

o They neglect their own personal hygiene

o They have speech difficulties

Schizophrenia is one of the top ten disabling conditions that most young adults experience today. Most of these patients struggle with various functional impairments which mostly require family or public support. These negative symptoms of schizophrenia are harder to treat and persist longer compared to the positive symptoms. Reports show that these symptoms cause high level of burden among caregivers as the patient may seem to look lazy and does not want to help himself/herself. But the truth is these problems are caused by schizophrenia. If you have a loved one or friend who displays such symptoms, have him/her see a psychiatrist right away.

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