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Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Rashmi Nemade, Ph.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., edited by Kathryn Patricelli, MA Updated: Mar 20th 2017

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

list with boxes checked Schizophrenia is identified by two groups of symptoms. These are called "positive" and "negative."

Positive symptoms are ones which are more than normal behavior. This group is further split into two groups. The "psychotic" group includes hallucinations and delusions. The "disorganized" one includes disorganized speech and behavior.

Negative symptoms involve missing behaviors compared to normal functioning. Examples include limited emotional expression, limited thought and speech, and lack of motivation.

Symptoms are not permanent things. Instead, they tend to change over time. A minimum number of symptoms (positive and/or negative) must be present before the diagnosis of schizophrenia can be made. It is very possible that a person may show some symptoms, but not enough of them to meet the formal diagnosis of schizophrenia for long periods of time. The maximum number of symptoms for the diagnosis will be present during the active phase (or "psychotic break") portion of the disorder. When enough symptoms are present and last for one month (or a shorter period if medication has been given) with some symptoms lasting for up to six months, a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be made. Once a formal diagnosis has been made, it can continue to be made later, even if some symptoms necessary for the diagnosis are no longer showing.


Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

RE: shadow - noname - Sep 29th 2010

To the 12year old girl who sees shadows... this is not a mental disorder you are gifted in seeing spirits. It seems as though the dark ones are trying to get your attention. Tell them to go away and mean it and do not giving them attention.

Shadows? - eclipse_dreamer - Apr 12th 2010

I am only 12, and I remember reading somewhere that the signs of schizophrenia start in the midtwentys for women. Is that always true? Am I just going crazy? I keep seeing people, it used to be just out of the corner of my eyes, but now I see them standing in front of me, even when I am around other people. They look like shadows, kindof. There is a human form to them, they are like a human wearing a dark blue, or black cloak. They scare me, and I can sometimes hear them whisper my name. Whats going on with me?

schizophrenia help - from someone who has been set free - Nov 29th 2009

I agree with sbrown written 10th Feb 2009...there is a definite spiritual dimention to schizophrenic on Jesus, he is the answer!  A great book to read is "Pigs in the parlor" author Frank and Ida Mae Hammond IBSN o-89228-027-1.  Get connected to a local Church that has the power of God evident, with people that care and will help minister to you (google "Pentecostal church").  Medicine can be good, therapy can be good, but we are body, soul & spirit~the spirit aspect should not be neglected, there is help available, ministered through a good church!

The voices don't want me to die. they want me to suffer - jon - Sep 26th 2009

I hear voices as sharp as knives, they cut me deep but the won't kill me.  the voices sound so familiar, like those of the people in my community.  I used to be an alcoholic and had done some terrible things.  I thought maybe it was my concience telling me I have to make ammends.  That was until the voices grew increasingly more violent.  You know when you get the feelingyou are being watched?  I have that feeling every minute everyday.  I feel embarrassed to shower sometimes cause I keep thinking'' they're watching me  do they exploit me over the internet?''  This i do know, people are that cruel and are truly that despicable.  And as a result of all this I grow angrier more and more everyday.  If the voices are not real then maybe I could move on.  But, if they are real, Iwould really like to know whose voices they belong to. I would not harm them.  i just want to know , why?  Why do you wish for me to suffer?  I bear the burden of a guilty conscience and, yes I do have to make ammends but dosen't everybody?  Why do I feel as if i'am  scrutinized.  even when i'am alone ,which is every minute of everyday, i feel like an ant under a magnifying glass burning this rage of emotions inside, setting my soul on fire.  i wish for the slightest peace of mind and instead i get dream full of nightmares.  such terrors roam the deepest recesses of my mind.......Am i crazy...for the sake of my enemies ...I hope that I'am.

trust in Jesus - sbrown - Feb 10th 2009

 I hear voices and things fight me in my sleep but started calling on Jesus and these things have passed.Jesus can fix your situation.

Lost in oblivion. - David Brito - Nov 24th 2008

I miss my dreams.

i think this all started happening as soon as i forgot i stopped sleeping. Tru to my word i do sleep when i pass out from exaustion. but i never thought anything of it i always got up for work (i ran a entire restaurant company for a year) and have gone in and out of work for the past 5 years(since i left home) im 23 years old, i am a man and i live in nyc. I have isolated myself since high school from my entire family and i have about a 6 month to a one year spane of keeping any solidity in my life. What i mean by that is every time i settle down in anyway. i set my whole life on fire, and get rid of anythign that makes me, well, me. So who am i?

I just started hearing voices for the first time. I always ignored it and i think i never heard voices in "words", just emotions. so i think now that i am more informed about this condition i am making out workds to place to the feelings.

                The only thing i can hear right now is

                            "dont tell them" 

I hope this post helps someone who may fall upon it. I am at the poiint of almost loosing everything ive worked for and the only reason im fighting for it now. is because this time i built so much and i dont want to lose it. even if i only feel like that for a few min out of every day. i know it to be true and maybe this will help someone who is feeling as lost and helpless as i.



- christina everett - Oct 29th 2008

See this is how I look at it. I am 16 years of age, and my mother suffers from this disorder. My aunt suffers from this disorder too. My grandmother also suffers from this disorder too. My twin sister has this disorder too. My thing is that I am afraid that I have it. Sometimes I get a little paranoid. A nd I think that I have it but I don't have as bad as some people. And yes there are times were I get paranoid and think I hear things but mu body just wo't admit that there is a issue going on. And to be honest I really want to get help befor it gets out of hand I really start losing my mind. I don't want ti to go that far.

my issues - cindy cotton - Jul 28th 2008

I don't know why I started noticing my pscycitic behavior but I think I have schizophrenia because I see things that are not there and I hear voices that tell me to kill myself and I try to ignore them but I cannot. I have tried to kill myself many times because of these voices and I think I really need help but I just dont know where to find it. I take medication but it ussually doesn't work. I just feel like giving up. But I really dont plan to because im berly 17 and im going crazy.

psychotic invasion in the brain - lisa - Jul 27th 2008
for some reason my episodes, i was told by a panel of psychiatrists. dont fall under the definition of hallucinations. they are extremly violent, i experience them though sight, sound. smell.and taste, and i react to them as being real, for some  reason they are stored in my memory bank as a real event even though i know afterward they arnt. i am taking, zyprexa, celexa, neurotin, and kalonapin. this combanation of meds has helped me be somewhat funtionable, but they still slip through every once in a while. i just want to know what causes this to happen to me for the last 17 years i am 42 now. i wondering if multiple childhood traumas has causes my psychi to crack and cause this to happen. I JUST WANT SOME ANSWERS!!!

systoms - Bethann - Nov 18th 2007
I understand how helpless you can feel when you try to find help and it seems like noone can identify the problem. My son is only 11 years old and from the begining of his life he has had problems and at first no real answers. Just keep trying to find someone who really understands.

It is so hard to get help - ~G - Aug 24th 2007
My brother is so sick....and it seems nobody will help or even knows whats wrong with him, we have been to many docter/mental health centers/hospitals and nobody has keep him long enough to see him at his worst!!! He was a happy go lucky, laid back fun loving guy without a care in the world, now he is distant and he is paranoid(sometimes) and he hears voices and just is in and out of reality..... the world is full of quacks!!!

agree - - Jul 26th 2007

i agree with the last comment. i too suffer from symptoms sometyimes. i think a may have a spilt so messed up.

Slight problem - - Mar 7th 2007
What if you exhibt the symptoms only every once i a while and not normally for more than a few hours? For instance if you start to have symptoms, go to sleep, and then wake up and you are "normal" again?

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