The difference between negative symptoms and depression

Negative symptoms are notoriously difficult to separate from symptoms of depression but I think I am able to distinguish mine pretty well.

Both involve a lot of me not doing anything, whether it’s things I should be doing or leisure activites but for different reasons. When it’s depression, I don’t want to do anything because it becomes too overwhelming. Everything is painful and takes extreme effort. When it’s negative symptoms, I don’t have that, and I WANT to do things, but I have no WILLPOWER to. Which if you try to explain the concept of not having willpower to a person who has not experienced it they will not understand or be sympathetic.

Similarly my concentration is bad due to depression or negative symptoms. But with depression my concentration is bad because I don’t care, I don’t want to be involved, I don’t want to be there. This typically only applies to things I don’t want to be doing or have to be doing. Concentration issues due to negative symptoms is different because it doesn’t matter whether I want to pay attention or not, I simply can’t.

Those are the differences for me. Can you guys distinguish between your negative and depressive symptoms? (For those who have both)


I don’t have any kind of chronic depression but I did have a period when I was younger before I ever developed SZ that I was VERY depressed. Compared to the negative symptoms I’ve experienced with schizophrenia, I would say the biggest difference for me is that, 1. I don’t really feel any sort of sadness with the negative symptoms, but I felt that almost constantly with the depression, and 2. I didn’t have any cognitive problems like memory issues or attention span with the depression


I dont take antidepresants and i am ok with that so i dont have depression

I find it very difficult to distinguish. I guess I have a mildly depressive nature but not enough to explain the lack of drive and motivation.

It is difficult to distinguish between both.
I have a hard time.

I think that the main differences are these:

  • the depression is usually caused/followed by a strong feeling of guilt and catastrophe.

  • the depressive symptoms are metaphysically “positive”: you feel that way and you complain a lot (check a depression forum). While the negative symptoms are the purest apathy/void: you don’t feel anything because your willpower, your motivation and your whole personality are vanishing.

  • serious depression is usually not chronic.


Yeah exactly there’s no pain or sadness with negative symptoms it’s just like you randomly can’t do something for no discernible reason.

I remember describing to my therapist a while back about how I wasn’t showering or feeding myself and basically was just sleeping all day but wasn’t depressed and she was like “does that not sound depressed to you?” But I really wasn’t at all my mood was fine.

I’ve had mild negative symptoms for years then.
I didn’t really feel anything during the times I was experiencing them, I still would do things like go to school and as of now, work, but I just didn’t feel the power to really wanna go.
When I was a teen, I didn’t shower or take care of myself much, because of that issue.

The difference between negative symptoms of sz/sza and depression is with depression there is sad mood. With negative symptoms, there is no sad mood.

I can’t really tell the difference…depression can cause apathy and bleakness also in some people. I sometimes get confused trying to find the clear difference in myself. Maybe they mix together after a while.

True, for me when my depression gets too extreme my brain sort of breaks and I become completely numb and can’t feel anything at all.