Schizophrenia Symptoms: A Review
A review of schizophrenia symptoms is in order. Different illnesses can mirror this one yet a common core of these symptoms could warrant a professional consultation.
Auditory hallucinations or visual hallucinations. Hearing voices is a frequent symptom. “Command voices” are those where the person is told to behave a certain way, like kill or harm himself or another person. Seeing things that aren’t there is also possible.
Though broadcasting. This is where the person thinks his thoughts have been inserted in someone else. For example, a news reporter on TV broadcasting your thoughts.
Delusions and paranoia. Delusions are fixed, false beliefs that a person has that can’t be changed when they are presented with contrary evidence. Delusions can be of any kind, not only that the CIA has planted a microchip in your brain (though this is a common one.) Delusions of persecution are also common.
Disorganized speech. This is where the speech doesn’t follow a rational train of thought. This is typical of a “word salad,” that is, a “confused or unintelligible mixture of seemingly random words and phrases.”
Anosognosia. This symptom is in plain English the lack of insight or awareness that you have an illness. So if you don’t think you’re sick you’ll refuse treatment because you actually believe your delusions are logical thoughts and are true, i.e, you’re not sick; it’s the CIA that’s implanted a microchip in your brain so that’s why these things are happening. See my SharePost on anosognosia.
Cognitive deficits. Leading researchers think cognitive deficits are the true hallmark of schizophrenia. Poor concentration and attention, problems with working memory, and poor executive functioning are often observed in individuals diagnosed with this illness. See my SharePosts on social skills training and cognitive remediation, two kinds of treatment.
Negative symptoms. The other symptoms fall under the rubric of positive symptoms because they introduce new elements to a person’s functioning. Negative symptoms reduce or take away from the person. These include a lack of motivation; flat affect; blunted emotional expression or inappropriate emotional expression; social withdrawal and isolation.
The DSM-V gives this preliminary criteria for the diagnosis of schizophrenia:
A. Two or more of the following symptoms must be present for a significant portion of time during a one-month period:
3. disorganized speech
4. catatonia or other grossly abnormal psychomotor behavior
5. “negative” symptoms, e.g. restricted affect, asociality
B. Significant decreased function at work, in interpersonal relations, or in self-care.
C. At least one month of active symptoms (criteria A) unless successfully treated and at least six months of all symptoms (prodromal, active, and residual).
D. Does not meet criteria for schizoaffective disorder, and symptoms of psychosis are not caused by substance abuse.
If any of this sounds like it’s happening to you or someone you love, rememeber that the quicker you get the right treatment, the better the outcome is. Do not delay in talking to a psychiatrist if you or a loved one are exhibiting these symptoms.
Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.