Schizophrenia symptoms can often be attributed to various other mental illnesses and are sometimes misdiagnoses accordingly. In fact, it is very common for patients who suffer from schizophrenia to be diagnosed with various other mental disorders long before they are correctly diagnosed with schizophrenia. Unfortunately, it can take time and due diligence on the part of both the patient and the treating doctor in order to void out other mental health conditions and come to the conclusion that schizophrenia is actually the cause behind the symptoms.
This condition typically affects about one percent of the American population making it a relatively challenging diagnosis to make. In men, symptoms of schizophrenia typically begin in the late teens or early 20s and in women the symptoms typically begin to appear in the late 20s to early 30s. It is very rare for children to be diagnosed with schizophrenia and diagnosis for people over the age of 45 is also a rare occurrence.
Schizophrenia symptoms are typically characterized as either positive or negative. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia are those which reflect an excess or distortion of normal functions. An individual must suffer from two or more positive symptoms during a significant period of time in order to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia are characterized by a diminishment or absence of characteristics of normal function. Any sign of these symptoms for a period of 30 days or more can be diagnosed as schizophrenia.
Positive Schizophrenia Symptoms
Delusions: People will have beliefs that are not backed by reality and are not interpreted based on actual experience. Delusions are a misinterpretation of perception or experience and they are one of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia.
Hallucinations: People will usually have auditory hallucinations which means that they will hear things that don’t exist. Schizophrenia can cause visual hallucinations as well although the majority of people will have auditory hallucinations more so than visual hallucinations when schizophrenia is a factor.
Thought Disorder: Schizophrenia causes problems with speech making it difficult for the person to talk. Their thoughts are often unorganized and may cause them to stop talking in the middle of a sentence or change the thought process all together making little or no sense at all to the listener. The words may come out wrong or be completely meaningless. This is a symptom of schizophrenia that is more widely known as word salad.
Disorganized Behavior: For an individual showing signs of schizophrenia, disorganized behavior can be seen in various ways ranging from unpredictable agitation or outbursts to acting childish. Behaviors that are disorganized can make it difficult for the individual to function regularly in day to day routines and activities.
Negative Schizophrenia Symptoms
In addition to the various positive schizophrenia symptoms that can be exhibited in an individual who is diagnosed with this mental health disorder, a number of negative symptoms may also be present. These symptoms include:
- a loss of interest in daily activities
- a lack of emotion or the appearance of having no emotion
- inability to plan or carry out activities
- neglecting personal hygiene
- showing a a lack of motivation or a complete loss of motivation
- becoming socially withdrawn
Cognitive Schizophrenia Symptoms
While the symptoms of schizophrenia are mostly considered either positive or negative, there are also a number of cognitive symptoms of this disorder which may be recognized by friends, family or loved ones. These symptoms affect the thought processes of the individual and are typically the most disabling of the symptoms making it difficult or seemingly impossible for the individual to perform routine daily tasks. It’s the cognitive symptoms that tend to be the most disabling of all and unfortunately, most people who suffer from schizophrenia are born with these symptoms which include:
- trouble making sense of information
- trouble paying attention
- trouble remember things or having memory problems that cause the individual to remember things inaccurately