“Are you hearing or seeing things that other people can’t”? This is usually the first question I ask someone who I suspect may have Schizophrenia. However, this doesn’t nearly encompass the entirety of this syndrome. The hallmarks of schizophrenia are both positive and negative symptoms and the specific cause is unknown. Positive symptoms include hallucinations and delusions. Negative symptoms include blunted affect, poverty of speech, anhedonia, and “asociality”. There may also be disorganized thinking and cognitive deficits as Schizophrenia is primarily a thought disorder.
When you’re looking at schizophrenia from a clinical standpoint a person may appear anxious or insecure and they may be poorly groomed depending on how far the illness may have progressed. Some patients may be well groomed or appear “normal”. It’s really a mixed-bag but you can be almost certain that the diagnosis is schizophrenia if the person is experiencing hallucination, delusions, and/or disorganized thought process.
While schizophrenia is typically something people grapple with life-long, anti-psychotics can help to greatly alleviate symptoms. If diagnosed early and treatment is initiated early, prognosis is better. With good treatment adherence and a multifaceted approach a person with schizophrenia can do very well. It’s not uncommon to see patients hold down jobs, participate socially, and truly thrive with this disorder.