There are a few different conditions on the Schizophrenic Spectrum. All of the conditions are debilitating, and can have a marked impact on the life of those with the condition.

While conditions can differ from case to case, there are a few consistent symptoms seen throughout, which we cover in this article.

The symptoms of the condition involve a range of emotions

What is the Schizophrenic Spectrum?

Schizophrenic Spectrum: The Schizophrenic Spectrum consists of a few different conditions that are characterised by a range of symptoms. These symptoms normally revolve around a difficulty in understanding reality due to changes in the way someone thinks, feels, or acts. These conditions usually involve a breakdown in the connection between thoughts, emotions and behaviour – often resulting in psychotic symptoms. Treatment is available, and can result in an improvement in quality of life.

Different types of symptoms

Symptoms of the Schizophrenic Spectrum are usually classed as being either “negative” or “positive.” Unfortunately, the “positive” symptoms aren’t a good thing.

Essentially, “positive” symptoms involve those that “add” a behaviour, thought or feeling, while “negative” symptoms refer to the symptoms that will take away a behaviour, thought or feeling.

Aside from the above two classes of symptoms, there are also some cognitive symptoms.

Positive Symptoms

Positive symptoms refer to the symptoms that involve any change in the behaviour or thoughts of an individual – such as hallucinations or delusions. These positive symptoms are often associated with psychosis.

Examples of positive symptoms include:

Hallucinations: This is where a person sees or hears something that doesn’t exist outside of their mind. It is also possible to smell, feel or even taste something too while hallucinating. A common hallucination is hearing voices. When someone hears voices, they may believe they are being ordered to do something by the voice, or sometimes the voice may be critical, or abusive. One of the most damaging parts of a hallucination is that the person who is hallucinating believes fully that what they are experiencing is real.

Delusions: A delusion is where an individual has a belief that they believe steadfastly in, though isn’t true. The person involved will be adamant that their belief is true. In the majority of cases however, they will not be correct. Delusions can take on a wide array of forms. An example of a delusion is paranoia – such as the feeling an individual is being spied on. As such, the delusion can have a marked effect on the day-to-day life of the individual.

Disorganised Speech: This is where an individual will struggle with their speech. They may make up words, struggle to concentrate on one topic, repeatedly chant words, or switch between topics rapidly. Sometimes, it can be impossible to understand what the person is saying.

Disorganised Behaviour: Someone exhibiting disorganised behaviour may act impulsively and unpredictably. A person may behave in a somewhat inappropriate way – having forgotten how a suitable way is to act. For instance, a person may swear loudly in public. Some people believe their movements and actions are being dictated by someone else, leading to their disorganised behaviour.

Catatonia: In cases that involve catatonia, an individual will normally appear immobile – sometimes not speaking nor moving. The individual will often be in a state of stupor – where they appear near-unconscious. The person will often be mute – offering little in the way of interaction. They often appear agitated, and may make repetitive movements. It is also possible for the other extreme of this behaviour to arise, such as excessive movements and excitement.

Unusual motor behaviour: Sometimes, an individual will exhibit unusual motor behaviour – such as pacing up and down, or making the same, repetitive movements. This can also act as a compulsion – similar to those seen in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Depersonalisation: This refers to the state where someone feels separated from their own body sensations, thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviour. The person may believe they aren’t connected to their body, and as such, may feel away from reality.

Derealisation: This is the feeling or sense that what is happening around an individual isn’t real. A person may feel they are in a dream. This can cause an individual to feel alienated from those close to them.

Negative Symptoms

Negative symptoms may appear before positive symptoms – which generally appear for the first time during a maiden schizophrenic episode. These symptoms are often referred to as the prodromal period of Schizophrenic conditions. These symptoms will often worsen over time, though start off relatively mild.

Examples of negative symptoms include:

Blunted Affect: Affect refers to the emotions of an individual. Someone with a Schizophrenic spectrum condition will often exhibit a blunted affect. This is where the individual shows little or no emotion, emphasised by a rigid facial expression. This can extend to tone of voice and mannerisms – both of which will tend to be limited. On occasions that seem to provoke happiness in most people, someone with a blunted affect will normally remain unmoved. Moreover, they can sometimes abandon the blunted affect and act inappropriately – such as laughing at a serious matter.

Poverty of Speech: This is where an individual may struggle to speak, or only give short, empty answers to questions. They may struggle to hold down a conversation with someone. The individual may struggle with social skills.

Avolition: A common symptom of many mental health conditions is avolition. This is where someone may experience a profound reduction or difficulty in starting and persisting with goal-directed behaviour – like getting a job or having a relationship. This is often seen as disinterest. As a result, someone may want to stay inside and away from the world, exhibit erratic sleeping patterns, have a low sex drive, and in general lack motivation.

Cognitive symptoms

Cognitive symptoms are those that are separate from positive and negative symptoms, and involve cognition.

Thought Disorder: Also known as disturbed thoughts – someone who has experienced psychosis will often lose touch with reality. As a result, their thought process can become distorted. They may be unable to focus on anything – losing their concentration easily. During a situation which involves disturbed thoughts, the mind of an individual can become jumbled, leading to confusion. Someone may think slowly, or have a poor memory. The person will generally struggle to match their thoughts, feelings and behaviour together.

Other

Schizoaffective Disorder is a condition that is on the Schizophrenic Spectrum. Possible symptoms in this condition also include mania and hypomania:

Mania: Mania is a mood state that is characterised by a euphoric high. Those in a manic state will typically lose control of their actions, and may take part in impulsive, risky and adventurous behaviour. Mania is a mood state that is best associated with Bipolar Disorder, though it also applies to Schizoaffective Disorder. A manic episode frequently causes significant impairment, and may require hospitalisation in severe cases.

Hypomania: Hypomania is a mood state that is characterised by feelings of high energy and excitement. Those in a hypomanic state will typically experience heightened disruption in their life, changes in their behaviour, but also potentially a high level of creativity. Hypomania can be a symptom of Bipolar Disorder and Schizoaffective Disorder. Hypomania isn’t as debilitating as Mania, though shares many characteristics.

The impact these symptoms have

These symptoms have a significant impact on multiple areas of the life of those with the condition.

One complication of negative symptoms is that many of these symptoms are similar to those seen in Depression. As a result, someone can be first diagnosed with Depression prior to developing a schizophrenic spectrum condition – when a positive symptom arises.

Another problematic situation with negative symptoms is that these symptoms will often lead to struggles with friends and families. Unfortunately, these symptoms can appear to be seen as “laziness” or “rudeness.”

Furthermore, symptoms tend to develop slowly, often during the teenage years. As a result, the symptoms are often initially put down to being a “phase”, or down to “hormones”, sadly.

A schizophrenic spectrum condition is normally diagnosed after an individual experiences their first schizophrenic episode. While someone may be exhibiting some of the ‘negative’ symptoms, it normally isn’t until someone experiences a ‘positive’ symptom for the first time, that an individual realises they have Schizophrenia. For instance, someone may have a hallucination for the first time, years after displaying negative symptoms.

Summary

There are many symptoms of conditions on the schizophrenic spectrum, as seen in this article. As such, not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, sometimes only a few symptoms are present.

Some patients will have periods of time without any symptoms. These symptoms can all cause distress however, meaning treatment is crucial.  

See Also

  1. Schizophrenic Spectrum: Everything You Need to Know
  2. What Are The Different Types of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  3. What Are The Symptoms of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  4. What Are The Causes of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  5. How are Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders Diagnosed?
  6. How Can Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders be Treated?
  7. What is the Prognosis for Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders??
  8. 10 Tips for Living With Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
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