People with schizophrenia may have what are referred to as positive symptoms (stuff that shouldn’t be there that is), negative symptoms (things that should be there but are not) and cognitive symptoms. Things like hearing voices, acting bizarrely or holding strongly to delusions are called “positive symptoms” and are what often come to mind when people think of schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia may believe that people are out to get them or conspiring against them, that the TV or radio is speaking to them directly or that they have special powers. Negative symptoms are the lack or fading of basic, important abilities. People may speak less and they may not have a limited range of emotional expression. It can also be hard to pursue goals or be interested in, or excited about, anything. Some common examples of negative symptoms could include the person spending less time with friends or family, being unmotivated about school/work, or having a less expressive face or tone of voice. Lastly, there are cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia or, to put it another way, problems with thinking. Thinking may be disorganized or slowed down, and people with the disorder may have poor concentration, poor memory or a hard time getting their point across to others.
Schizophrenia affects approximately 1% of the population and this rate is seen in different populations around the world. In mental health clinical and research settings in the United States, schizophrenia has been over-diagnosed in Black people. Sometimes people with other mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder or PTSD have symptoms that overlap with the symptoms of schizophrenia. Everyone who hears voices is not schizophrenic.