Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling. Symptoms of schizophrenia usually start between ages 16 and 30. In rare cases, children may develop schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is typically a chronic condition requiring lifelong treatment. The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three categories: positive, negative, and cognitive.

Positive symptoms:

Psychotic behaviors not generally seen in healthy people. Like:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought disorders (unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking)

Negative symptoms: 

Disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors. Like:

  • “Flat affect” (reduced expression of emotions)
  • Reduced feelings of pleasure 
  • Difficulty beginning or sustaining activities
  • Reduced speaking

Cognitive symptoms: 

Cognitive symptoms may range from subtle to severe and patients may notice changes in memory or thinking. Like:

  • Poor “executive functioning” (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions)
  • Trouble focusing or paying attention
  • Problems with “working memory”