People with schizophrenia usually experience several types of symptoms listed below1.
(1) "Positive" symptoms
These are psychological features "added" as a result of the disorder, but not normally seen in healthy people such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganised thinking and agitation.
(2) "Negative" symptoms
These are psychological capabilities, which most people possess, but which people with schizophrenia have lost such as lack of drive, or initiative, social withdrawal, apathy (not caring about anything) and emotional unresponsiveness ('blunting') such as drive and initiative. Other examples of "negative" symptoms include social withdrawal, apathy (not caring about anything), and emotional unresponsiveness ('blunting').
(3) Cognitive symptoms
Patients had poorer performance than healthy controls over a wide range of cognitive functions, such as attention, memory and executive function.
The sudden onset of severe psychotic symptoms is referred to as an acute psychotic episode. The negative symptoms of schizophrenia may be less obvious than the positive symptoms, and may precede, occur along with, or follow the positive psychotic symptoms. During a psychotic episode, people with schizophrenia cannot think logically, and may lose all sense of who they are.
The relative risk for suicide is increased by 12 times, with a lifetime risk of roughly 6.5%1.
? A number of new 'atypical' antipsychotic medications for schizophrenia with fewer and less severe side effects than older medications have been introduced in 1980s. The atypical antipsychotic medicines appear to target both serotonin and dopamine, and as a result they seem to have effects on a broader range of symptoms. They are effective in the treatment of psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions, and may also be helpful for treating the negative symptoms of the disease1.
? The large majority of people with schizophrenia show substantial improvement when treated with antipsychotic medicines. Discontinuation of medication without physician supervision and guidance may lead to relapse4.
? For more information, please consult psychiatrists or healthcare professionals.
1. Owen, Sawa and Mortensen, Lancet. 2016 July 2; 388(10039): 86–97.
2. Huang YQ et al., Lancet Psychiatry. 2019 Mar;6(3):211-224.
3. Millan MJ, et al. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2016 Jul;15(7):485-515.
4. Alvarez-Jimenez et al. Schizophr Res 2012; 139:116–128.