Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Jul 04, 2022
Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia symptoms are often described as either positive or negative, so does that mean there’s an “upside” to having the condition? Actually, those terms mean something completely different. Here’s the explanation.

Schizophrenia is a relatively uncommon medical condition that affects as many as 0.64% of the population, with symptoms typically appearing in the late teens to the early 30s. The symptoms of schizophrenia can be significant and with life-altering consequences — but they can also be effectively managed with the right therapeutic approach.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, you may have heard the symptoms described as either positive or negative. That can be confusing because while the terms seem to denote “good vs. bad,” they actually mean something entirely different.

At The Marcann Group, located in Glendale and Phoenix, Arizona, our team helps people with schizophrenia understand their disease and find treatment solutions to manage the symptoms so they can lead healthier and happier lives. Here’s what “positive” and “negative” symptoms mean and how treatment can help you take back control of your life.

Schizophrenia: The basics

Schizophrenia is a chronic and lifelong condition that requires management to keep its symptoms in check. While researchers don’t know the exact cause of schizophrenia, they believe it’s due to a combination of factors, which could include:

  • Genetics
  • Prenatal maternal exposure to viruses
  • Problems with brain chemistry

In addition to the symptoms of schizophrenia, it’s also associated with a reduction in gray matter — the part of your brain responsible for decision-making and self-control, among other functions.

While schizophrenia is typically considered a “mental illness,” it may be more helpful to think of it as a brain abnormality, similar to other organ abnormalities that cause other lifelong illnesses. Type 1 diabetes is a good example. 

In type 1 diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t produce the amount of insulin your body needs to properly regulate blood sugar (glucose). Type 1 diabetes is the manifestation of this dysfunction, much as schizophrenia is a manifestation of an abnormal brain structure or function. 

Thinking of schizophrenia in that way, it’s easier to understand that it is not something to feel “guilty” about — it’s an organ-related dysfunction that requires medical treatment.

Positive vs. negative symptoms

Schizophrenia is characterized by several symptoms that include:

  • Delusions, including feelings of paranoia
  • Auditory and/or visual hallucinations
  • Disorganized thinking and speech
  • Agitation
  • Strange movements or unusual postures
  • Inability to focus or process what’s going on around you
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Apparent lack of emotion or inappropriate emotional reaction

Medically, these symptoms are divided into two groups: positive and negative symptoms. 

As noted, the terms “positive” and “negative” might lead you to believe that there’s an “upside” to having schizophrenia. That’s not what these names mean. Instead, positive symptoms include changes in thoughts and behaviors that happen after a person develops the condition, such as hallucinations or delusions. 

Alternatively, negative symptoms include those that cause a person to withdraw from people around them, culminating in isolation. It also includes the emotionless, disinterested, or “flat” affect typically exhibited by people with schizophrenia. 

Treating schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a significant medical issue that can take a dramatic toll on your life and the lives of your loved ones. But there is good news: Schizophrenia responds well to medications and therapy. 

Because schizophrenia is a lifelong condition, you must continue treatment for the rest of your life to maintain the benefits of your therapy. That means that even when your therapy helps you feel better, you must continue with treatment to manage symptoms and prevent them from returning.

At The Marcann Group, our team focuses on combining medication, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic options to create a custom treatment plan. Plus, we provide ongoing support to help you “stay the course,” so you can enjoy a happier and more positive life. We can also provide your loved ones with resources to help them understand your disease and learn how to cope with your symptoms and support your needs.

Get the help you need

Your brain is an organ, and just like any organ, when it’s not functioning the way it’s supposed to, medical treatment is essential. Our team is skilled in combining therapeutic approaches that work for your needs and your symptoms.

To learn more about schizophrenia management, book an appointment online or over the phone with Marcann Mental Health Services today. Our offices in Glendale and Phoenix, Arizona, maintain hours six days a week, and we also offer telehealth services so you can get the help you need wherever you are.