The symptoms of schizophrenia are classified into positive and negative symptoms. The former refers to new behavior patterns that weren't there before, while the latter refers to traits that were greatly reduced and in severe cases, may become totally lost. Below are the positive symptoms of schizophrenia:1,2
• Delusions: these are false beliefs contrary to what is based on reality. For example, a schizophrenic might think the government is out to get him, and subsequently starts seeing government agents everywhere, even if it's not real.
• Hallucinations: these refer to things that a patient may hear, see, smell or feel that only they can experience. A patient may also hear voices in his head that talk to him or to one another. Colors and shapes may become distorted in the patient's own field of view as well.3
• Disorganized thoughts and speech: oftentimes, communication may be impaired and the patient may answer unrelated thoughts. They may speak in gibberish, and zone out too.
• Abnormal physical behavior: schizophrenics often exhibit odd behavior, such as repeating the same movements again and again. In other cases, they may stand still in the same position for hours.
• Color symbolism: a symptom unique to schizophrenia, color symbolism refers to the idea that different colors convey different messages. Typically, schizophrenics believe that the messages are coming from a higher power or being.4
Below are the negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia:5
• Apathy: this typically manifests as a lack of drive for activities that were once important, such as hobbies or studies.
• Social withdrawal: those who undergo social withdrawal typically shun or minimize social contact, and spend a great part of the day by themselves.
• Lethargy: schizophrenics typically have very low energy and engage in little physical activity, preferring to spend a large portion of their time in bed instead.
• Reductions in speech: Compared to disorganized thoughts in speech, this symptom typically refers to very minimal interest in conversation and gives very few words when questioned. In extreme cases, the person may be completely mute.
The aforementioned symptoms fall under "undifferentiated schizophrenia," a type of schizophrenia wherein a person exhibits a mixture of positive and negative symptoms, but do not fall under any specialized schizophrenia subtype. The following are the more specific subtypes of schizophrenia.
In this subtype, paranoia refers the feeling that a group is out to get you for a crime, or exaggerated opinions of an event. The arguments formed trying to justify the paranoia may sound logical, but they are still based on unfounded claims.
Patients who suffer from catatonic schizophrenia generally exhibit two different forms of catatonia. The first one is "catatonic stupor," wherein a patient displays a drastic reduction in physical activity, even to the point where he may stay still for hours at a time. The second one is "catatonic excitement," wherein a patient usually displays hyperactivity, repetitive movements and imitation of sounds and actions from items and people in his surroundings.
Those who belong under this subtype have originally shown strong symptoms of schizophrenia, but are now in a more stable, controllable period. Negative symptoms rarely show up as well. If treatment goes according to plan, it's possible for the patient to live a productive life, but he may be susceptible to attacks every now and then.6
The main indicator for this type of schizophrenia is the disorganization of thought processes, such as the disruption of physical activities and routines. Hallucinations and delusions may still appear but are less common. Those who suffer from this type are often emotionally unstable, or may have responses not appropriate or normal given the current situation. They may also often have difficulty ordering their words to form coherent sentences.7
Schizophrenia in Children and Teenagers
It's possible for children to be affected with schizophrenia. Typically, schizophrenia in children have more auditory hallucinations rather than visual and olfactory hallucinations,8 but there are particular symptoms, such as:9,10
• Language impairments
• Unusual crawling
• Severe anxiety
• Having difficulties relating with friends
• Confusing between what is shown on television and reality
While the symptoms above are for young children, the following are typically apparent in teenagers:
• Drop in school performance
• Signs of depression or irritability
• Social withdrawal
• Lack of motivation
• More likely to have visual hallucinations