BOSTON, MA — Hallucinations and delusions are the most obvious
symptoms of schizophrenia. But such psychotic or "positive" symptoms
are not necessarily the most important or disabling ones. Another set
of symptoms, called "negative" symptoms, are much more pervasive and
persistent—and they have a much greater effect on a patient's quality
of life, reports the July issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.
symptoms are marked by absence as much as presence: inexpressive faces,
monotone speech, few gestures, seeming lack of interest in the world,
and inability to feel pleasure. "Positive symptoms make treatment seem
more urgent. But negative symptoms are the main reason patients with
schizophrenia cannot live independently, hold jobs, establish personal
relationships, and manage everyday social situations. These symptoms
are also the ones that trouble them most," says Dr. Michael Miller,
editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.
symptoms are closely related to limitations in cognitive abilities,
such as mental flexibility and the capacity to pay attention and shift
focus when necessary. Such mental limitations also affect real-world
functioning and the outcome of the illness.
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