Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
There are several characteristic signs and symptoms of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is marked by cognitive symptoms, including:
- Schizophrenia Symptoms
Disorganized or slow thinking
Difficulty expressing thoughts
Difficulty integrating thoughts, feelings and behavior.
Additionally, there are positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. It is important to note that these categories do not mean some symptoms are good. Instead, “positive” refers to the presence of a symptom, while “negative” refers to the absence of features typically present in healthy people.
A positive symptom refers to the presence of a symptom or trait. Hallucinations and delusions are the two primary examples of positive symptoms, and both are examples of psychosis. Hallucinations are when a person hears, sees or feels things that are not really there. Delusions are firmly held beliefs that conflict with reality.
Schizophrenia delusions are usually either paranoid or focused on feeling grandiose, important or essential in some meaningful way. Research suggests the dopamine system plays a large role in the expression of positive symptoms.
Negative symptoms of schizophrenia refer to the lack of a feature or characteristic that is typically present in a healthy individual. Negative symptoms include unresponsive facial expressions, poverty of speech and thought, lack of pleasure, apathy, reduction in social drive, loss of motivation and lack of social interest.
Schizophrenia and depression can sometimes be confused due to these symptoms. However, the two disorders have a similar biological basis because both are related to a dysfunction in dopamine.
Early Warning Signs
Early warning signs of schizophrenia can be seen in what is called the prodrome phase of psychosis. These signs are essentially a buildup to the psychotic symptoms associated with schizophrenia. The onset of schizophrenia-associated psychosis may be preceded by weeks, months or years of various psychological and behavioral abnormalities. These abnormalities include disturbances in cognition, emotion, perception, communication, motivation, and sleep.
Symptoms in Children and Teens
Although schizophrenia is not typically diagnosed until early adulthood, there are early signs of schizophrenia in children. Psychosis can indeed be present in children. In one study, very few of the children who had psychotic symptoms by age 11 were symptom-free from schizophrenia by age 38. However, symptoms in children were not always predictive of schizophrenia.
Symptoms of schizophrenia in teens can be hard to distinguish from the normal changes that teens go through, but these symptoms include: