Negative symptoms of schizophrenia: About and treatment – Medical News Today

Schizophrenia is a chronic, complex mental disorder that interferes with the ability to feel, think, and behave. It presents with both positive and negative symptoms.
Negative symptoms of schizophrenia refer to “abnormally absent” feelings or motivations rather than additional, new experiences or behaviors. These lost or decreased feelings and motivations are those that people without schizophrenia would typically have.
Most of these negative symptoms stem from motivational, or volitional, impairment and problems feeling or expressing emotions.
Keep reading to learn more about the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, including common examples, the differences between positive and negative symptoms, and the treatment options.
The negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia mostly relate to motivational and emotional impairments. Many mimic the symptoms of depression. More than 50% of people with chronic schizophrenia experience at least one negative symptom associated with the disease.
Motivation issues specifically may be a real point of concern, as they can also prevent people from engaging in self-care and seeking or following a treatment plan.
Common negative symptoms of schizophrenia include:
Negative schizophrenia symptoms can be primary or secondary. Symptoms that are related to the actual pathophysiology of the condition are primary negative symptoms. Those associated with environmental factors, medical treatment, or conditions occurring alongside schizophrenia are secondary negative symptoms.
It is worth noting that it is sometimes difficult to discern what is primary and what is secondary in terms of symptoms. Nevertheless, negative symptoms require clinical help in either case.
Unlike the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, which involve a lack of feelings or behaviors, the positive symptoms of schizophrenia are additional symptoms that people with schizophrenia experience.
In other words, positive symptoms of schizophrenia are “abnormally present” in people with the condition.
Some positive symptoms associated with schizophrenia include:
Learn more about the positive symptoms of schizophrenia.
There is no cure for schizophrenia, but most people can manage their symptoms using a combination of medication, psychotherapy, psychosocial support, and support from family or loved ones.
Common treatment and management options for schizophrenia include:
These treatment options are for schizophrenia in general, not just the negative symptoms. However, people should note that some ongoing clinical trials are focusing on the treatment of negative symptoms specifically.
Some natural remedies may help treat schizophrenia or its symptoms — both positive and negative. However, most still require additional research to ensure their effectiveness and safety.
Natural remedies with some evidence to support their use in people with schizophrenia include:
No single lab or physical test can diagnose schizophrenia.
Instead, a healthcare professional, ideally a psychiatrist, will diagnose schizophrenia by closely evaluating and observing someone’s symptoms. They will usually look at the course of these symptoms over at least 6 months. A doctor will only diagnose someone with schizophrenia if at least two of the following symptoms are persistent and reduce the ability to function:
To diagnose someone with schizophrenia, a doctor must also rule out other possible causes of the person’s symptoms. Conditions and factors that can cause similar symptoms include:
There is not enough reliable evidence to explain exactly why some people experience schizophrenia and its associated symptoms.
However, some factors do seem to contribute to the development and, in some cases, progression of schizophrenia. These include:
As with most medical conditions, identifying and properly treating schizophrenia as early as possible increases the likelihood of being able to manage the condition successfully and reduces the risk of psychotic episodes occurring.
Receiving proper care during a first psychotic episode also tends to reduce how often someone requires hospitalization and allow them to control their symptoms sooner.
People with well-managed schizophrenia can often live very productive, rewarding lives.
People with schizophrenia can experience symptoms known as negative symptoms, which mostly stem from:
Although traditional medications for schizophrenia may not improve negative symptoms significantly, some supportive therapies might be effective.
People should contact a healthcare professional if they experience changes in their mood or their emotional or cognitive abilities.
Last medically reviewed on March 29, 2022
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