Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe chronic brain disorder in which individuals interpret real-life abnormally. When schizophrenia is active, symptoms can include:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme disordered thinking and behaviors 
  • Disorganized speech
  • Lack of motivation

Symptoms can become so severe that the individual’s daily functioning can become impaired. 

Individuals that have been diagnosed with schizophrenia may seem as though they have completely lost touch with reality. This can cause a significant amount of stress for their loved ones. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia within yourself or a loved one can be horrifying, to begin with. However, with the correct treatment, most of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia will generally significantly improve, with the likelihood of recurrence being severely diminished. 

Early warning signs of schizophrenia 

Identifying and diagnosing a chronic brain disorder can be challenging, especially one as complex as schizophrenia.

Some individuals who have schizophrenia will have signs and symptoms that appear very suddenly, without any warning. However, for most individuals, the mental health disorder comes on relatively slowly, visibly showing subtle warning signs, along with a gradual decline in individuals functioning. Often, loved ones and friends will recognize that something is wrong but will not be able to identify what it is.

Within the early phase of schizophrenia, individuals may start to become rather unmotivated about life. They can become emotionless, begin to isolate themselves away from everyone, neglecting their appearance, and possibly say peculiar things that can show a general indifference to life. Activities and hobbies will often take a back seat in their life, along with their performance at work deteriorating. 

Most common early warning signs  

Schizophrenia affects everyone differently, but there will always be common signs that will generally begin to show with every illness. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Difficulting concentrating for even the smallest amount of time 
  • Lack of facial expressions
  • Lack of motivation for activities they once adored
  • Psychosis such as hallucinations and delusions
  • Lack of emotion
  • Seemingly anxious about nothing
  • Out of sorts
  • Reduced speech 

Positive symptoms of schizophrenia   

Positive symptoms are highly exaggerated ideas, perceptions, or actions that show that the individual can not distinguish between real and not. The terminology of the word ‘positive’ refers to the presence over the absence of symptoms. This can include:


Individuals who have schizophrenia might often see, smell, feel or hear things that no one else around does. These types of hallucinations within the chronic brain disorder include:

Visual – An individual might see patterns, lights, objects, or people. This can often take the form of a loved one who is no longer around or alive. 

Auditory – The individual will often hear voices in their head. These voices can become extravagant, angry, violent, and demanding, encouraging individuals to carry out specific acts. These voices can differ between just one or several, all trying to speak at the same time.

Tactile – The individual can experience lifelike movements around their body; as thought, insects were crawling all over.

Olfactory and gustatory –  Individuals have been known to smell pleasant and unpleasant smells and taste when no one around them can. They can lead to the individual believing that someone is possibly attempting to poison them. 


Delusions are often false beliefs that the individual is fascinated with that may seem strange and unrealistic. For example, an individual who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia who is experiencing a psychotic episode of delusions may wholeheartedly believe that someone such as the FBI is out to get them, stalking and watching their every move. Other examples can include the individual believing they are a completely different person, possibly a superhero from a film or the president. Variations of delusions can include

Religious delusions – A person diagnosed with schizophrenia may believe that they have been ‘chosen by either god or the devil to carry out certain acts, or their bodies have become possessed by the devil. 

Somatic delusions –  The individual will constantly believe that they have a terrible, deadly illness or a specific health issue such as spiders under the skin or skin damage from light bulbs.

Grandiose delusions – Individuals who have been diagnosed with grandiose delusions believe that they are a significant figure, such as a politician.

Persecutory delusions –  Individuals will believe they are constantly stalked; someone is always after them, hunting and framing them with every chance they are given. 

Erotomanic delusions –  Individuals are known to convince themselves that a high-profile figure such as a celebrity is in love with them. Or that their partner is or has been cheating even though no such signs have been shown.

Referential delusion –  Individuals believe that communication from song lyrics and gestures from celebrities on tv are coded messages specifically for them.

Disorganized speech and thoughts 

Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia can often find it challenging to organize the thoughts around in their heads. When you speak to them, they may completely zone out or become distracted by their surroundings. 

When an individual that has been diagnosed with schizophrenia talks to you, their words, when spoken, can become muddled and not make sense. 

Movement disorder

Individuals can visually be jumpy when suffering from schizophrenia; they will often repeat the same type of movement several times in a short period. On other occasions, they can still perfectly still for hours at a time. Experts refer to this as catatonic.

Trouble concentrating 

Individuals may lose track of what is going on in a specific event or on tv. While it may seem as though they are paying complete attention, their mind has become distracted.

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia  

The negative symptom is a term referred to as an absence or lack of normal mental function involving:

  • Perception
  • Thinking
  • Behavior

As a loved one watching an individual who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, you may notice:

Trouble with speech

Individuals with schizophrenia may show little to no feelings; they may further not talk as much as they used to. Medical professionals refer to this as alogia. 

Lack of pleasure 

Anything that once brought joy and happiness to the individual, whether a hobby, activity, person, or object, is now confronted with no emotion. Medical professionals refer to this as anhedonia. 


You will see that individuals who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia will often become isolated. They will withdraw themselves from social interactions, stop making plans with friends or family members. Attempting to have a conversation with no one-worded answers can be like getting blood out of a stone. Medical health professionals call this apathy. 


When the individual speaks, their voice can come across as very monotone; there is little to no emotion behind their voice or what they are saying. They will keep a relatively straight face or show rather unusual facial expressions when involved in a conversation. Doctors will refer to this as affective flattening. 

No follow through

The individual will find it hard to start a task and finish it in one go; it can become challenging for them to stay on schedule, arrive at events on time. Medical professionals refer to this as abolition. 

Struggle with day to day life

Individuals will find it challenging to stay well-groomed, shower, have a fresh set of clothes, and eat nutritious food. Taking care of themselves and their appearance is no longer a priority. 

Cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia

Cognitive symptoms reflect how well a diagnosed individual’s brain learns, stores, and uses information. 

An individual who has schizophrenia may find it challenging to:

  • Maintain attention
  • Remember past events or important information
  • Plan activities 
  • Understand that they have a mental health disorder 

Individuals may find it challenging to organize their thoughts and make conscious decisions from weighing up the positive and negative outcomes. 

Finding help

Our San Diego mental health treatment services allow our clients to work closely with our medical professionals to create a customized treatment plan that works around you.

Communication is vital when developing a roadmap to success; therefore, we work closely with you to define measurable, achievable objectives to produce and attain sustainable results.

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