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What is a Psychotic Disorder?

The Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The diagnosis of schizophrenia is based on a combination of symptoms. An individual's symptoms can change over time. Although it affects men and women equally, schizophrenia most often appears in men in their late teens or early twenties, while it appears in women in their late twenties or early thirties. The course of the illness is unique for each individual. The symptoms of schizophrenia are divided into three categories: positive, negative and cognitive symptoms.

Positive Symptoms are something "added" to a person's personality or experience. Positive symptoms often cause a person to lose touch with reality. Positive symptoms can include:

Delusions: Occur when someone believes ideas that are clearly false (e.g. people are reading their thoughts or that they can control other people's minds). The beliefs are inconsistent with culture or previous beliefs or experiences. Individuals with delusions will continue to have the beliefs even when confronted with contradictory evidence.

Hallucinations: Seeing, hearing or feeling things that other do not, including hearing sounds or voices, seeing intense colors, blurred or distorted images, or feeling objects that are not there.

Negative Symptoms are deficits of normal behavior and "take away" from the person's ability and usual way of interacting with the world. These symptoms can include:

Lack of facial expression or inability to detect facial cues from others
Inability to start or follow through with activities
Lack of content in speech
Inability to experience pleasure
Inability to maintain social contacts
Inability to maintain focus

Cognitive Symptoms pertain to thinking processes. People living with schizophrenia often struggle with executive functioning, memory and organizing thoughts. These symptoms include:

Disorganized or slow thinking
Difficulty understanding
Poor concentration
Poor memory
Difficulty expressing thoughts

The Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

While schizophrenia is characterized by the above symptoms, people living with schizoaffective disorder also experience symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania or depression.

Mood symptoms are related to your feelings. Often, mood disorders will start out as mild feelings of sadness or inadequacy. These symptoms include:

 Depression: Predominant mood is depressed and there is a loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities. Depression in its severe forms can cause psychosis. 

 Mania: Period of time in which a person’s mood is elevated or irritable, there is a lack of restraint in behavior, and highs in energy, requiring little or no sleep. Severe mania can cause psychosis, or a person can have both mania symptoms and psychosis symptoms distinctly from each other.

 

To read more about psychosis, visit nami.org or mayoclinic.com.

 

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