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There are eight principal negative symptoms. These are:
1. Apathy / Loss if interest in activities that used to be something they did
The person may have a lack of interest in activities that previously were important to them such as their work or studies or recreational activities such as sports. They may also stop looking after themselves properly and their personal hygiene and appearance may suffer noticeably. They may be reluctant to leave the house or even their bedroom and may lie in bed for the larger part of the day.
2. Absent, blunted or incongruous emotional responses
People with schizophrenia experiencing negative symptoms may appear to display no reaction to good or bad news or to react inappropriately for instance laughing at sad news or appearing to become unhappy when hearing good news.
3. Reductions in speech
People with negative symptoms of schizophrenia may appear to have little interest in conversation and may give only very brief responses to questions. Their speech may be disrupted or there may be long pauses in the flow of their speech or in responding to conversation (known as poverty of speech). The ability to make small talk is often completely lost and this loss of vital communication skills can impact seriously on the person’s ability to take part in social activities or find employment7. This is also called alogia by doctors. In extreme cases the person may become completely mute.
4. Social withdrawal (not seeing friends and family much)
The person may shun social contact and may prefer to spend the larger part of the day and night by themselves. There is a general lack of will to interact with the world around them. This is called avolition by doctors
5. Impaired attention / Difficulty concentrating
There may be an obvious difficulty in concentrating during conversation and an inability to concentrate on even simple tasks.
6. Anhedonia / Ability to experience pleasure
This describes an inability to experience pleasure. People with schizophrenia who experience this often describe life as being grey or empty, devoid of the normal emotional ups and downs that we all take for granted7. Others have described it as feeling empty or hollow10.
7. Sexual problems
There may be a significant reduction or total absence of libido (sex drive), men may experience problems in achieving erections and both men and women may have problems achieving an orgasm (anorgasmia).
8. Lethargy / Lack of Energy
People with schizophrenia experiencing negative symptoms will often have a profound lack of energy and find it difficult to do any more than light activity. This may lead to them spending a large part of the day in bed or watching television.
They include the following:
- poor ability to absorb and interpret information and make decisions based on that information
- inability to sustain attention, and
- Poor ability to keep recently learned information in mind and use it right away