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Mental Disorders: Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a type of mental illness characterized by three groups of symptoms: positive signs, negative symptoms, and cognitive behavior. This paper aims to discuss these symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis, and finally, the treatment option for schizophrenia.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Positive Symptoms (Things That Might Start Happening)

Hallucinations. These are perceptions that are not tangible. Patients may hear, see, smell and feel things others are not. For example, a patient may say they are hearing the voice of God but has no solid explanation of how they identified it (Rodríguez-Testal et al., 2021). Besides the sound, these voices have thoughts, which cause the patients to think of these them although they are not their honest thoughts (Rodríguez-Testal et al., 2021). According to Yttri et al. (2022), it is usually not easy for these patients to differentiate between their beliefs and their voice thoughts.

Delusions. These are thoughts that do not match reality. The patients may have a firm belief that something is happening to them controversial to what other people know (Bell et al., 2020). For example, they may think that someone is after them or someone is framing them, or public communication is a special message for them (D’Arrigo, 2020).

Negative Symptoms (Things That Might Stop Happening)

These symptoms involve loss of motivation and reduced emotional expression (Galderisi et al., 2021). For example, the patient may lack pleasure in things they have been enjoying, stop talking much, or fail to express normal emotions when responding to a conversation (D’Arrigo, 2020). These symptoms reduce the quality of life the patient lives and place a burden on the patient, relatives, and health care system (Galderisi et al., 2021).

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognition refers to how people process, store, and apply information about others and social situations. Patients with cognitive symptoms suffer impairments in memory, attention, executive functioning, and learning (Mascio et al., 2021). To a lesser extent, these patients experience impaired social cognition and cannot regulate their emotions and understand the feelings of others (Lovering, 2021).

Diagnosis of Schizophrenia

Diagnosis of schizophrenia is achieved through assessment of the patient-specific symptoms with the help of criteria described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). The requirements state that the patient must demonstrate two or more symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and grossly unorganized and negative (Patel et al., 2014). It also states that the most potent symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, rambling speech) must have been present in at least one month, and the lesser sign for the last six months (Anwar, 2022). Differential diagnosis is also crucial to differentiate schizophrenia from other mental disorders. This is achieved by examining the duration of the illness, the timing of delusions or hallucinations, and the severity of depressive or manic symptoms (Patel et al., 2014). In rare situations, the clinician will perform a blood test to execute any other reason causing the symptoms and screening for alcohol and other substances (Anwar, 2022). However, to conclude that it is schizophrenia, the clinician must confirm that the present symptoms do not result from substance abuse or any other medical condition (Patel et al., 2014).

Prognosis of Schizophrenia

Studies have shown that the earlier treatment is started and the more intensive it is will determine how better the results would be. The decline in social and work skills deteriorates functioning, and they experience progressive neglect of self-care in the first five years after the onset of the symptoms (Tamminga, 2022). Negative symptoms may become severe, cognitive functioning decline, and the level of disability will be steady. During the first year after diagnosis, the prognosis involves adherence to the prescribed psychoactive drugs and preventing the use of these drugs for pleasure (Tamminga, 2022). A good prognosis will be influenced by factors like a family history of mood disorder, few negative symptoms, minimal cognitive impairment, and the person’s condition before the onset of the illness (Tamminga, 2022). For example, if they were good students or had a strong work history. A prognosis will have poor outcomes if the condition started at a younger age, functioning before onset was poor, there are many negative symptoms, and a family history of schizophrenia (Tamminga, 2022).

Treatment of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is not curable but can be managed by medication, therapy, and self-management techniques (Stępnicki et al., 2018). First-generation antipsychotics are some of the medicine used, and they block how your brain uses dopamine, a chemical that the brain uses for cell-to-cell communication (Stępnicki et al., 2018). Another type of medication is the second generation, which blocks dopamine and serotonin, two essential communication chemicals in the brain (Stępnicki et al., 2018). Cognitive behavior therapy is yet another technique that has been found effective in reducing symptoms of schizophrenia (Turner, David, et al., 2020). Initial treatment response and the quality of the reaction are highly dependent on the time between the onset of the psychotic symptoms and the first treatment (Tamminga, 2022).

In conclusion, although schizophrenia has been characterized by scary symptoms, an early and proper diagnosis followed by a good prognosis can manage the disorder. Diagnosis through designed procedures is being carried out, and a treatment plan is initiated using a pharmacological approach by antipsychotic drugs in combination with psychosocial therapy. Therefore timely diagnosis, proper treatment, and a positive attitude towards the recovery process are the main determinants of the quality of response.


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D’Arrigo, T. (2020) Schizophrenia symptoms: Positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, WebMD. WebMD. Available at: (Accessed: January 23, 2023).

Galderisi, S. et al. (2021) “EPA guidance on treatment of negative symptoms in schizophrenia,” European Psychiatry, 64(1). Available at:

Lovering, N. (2021) Cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia: Types and treatments, Psych Central. Psych Central. Available at: (Accessed: January 23, 2023).

Mascio, A. et al. (2021) “Cognitive impairments in schizophrenia: A study in a large clinical sample using natural language processing,” Frontiers in Digital Health, 3. Available at:

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Tamminga, C. (2022) Schizophrenia – psychiatric disorders, MSD Manual Professional Edition. MSD Manuals. Available at: (Accessed: January 24, 2023).

Turner, David, et al. “Efficacy and Moderators of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychosis Versus Other Psychological Interventions: An Individual-Participant Data Meta-Analysis.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol. 11, 2020, Accessed January 25, 2023.

Yttri, J.-E., Urfer-Parnas, A. and Parnas, J. (2022) “Auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia, part II,” Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 210(9), pp. 659–664. Available at:


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