Negative Symptom

What are Negative Symptoms?

Negative symptoms are those that represent a diminution of functioning, often associated with mental health disorders like schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. Negative symptoms can include a lack of motivation, flat emotion, difficulty displaying feelings, social withdrawal, and reduced ability to initiate and sustain activities.

Common Negative Symptoms

Negative symptoms are divided into three basic categories:

  • Affective symptoms which include flattened/inappropriate emotions or lack of emotional response, lack of motivation, anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure), and social withdrawal.
  • Cognitive symptoms which include lack of attention, disorganized thought process, poor concentration, and impaired decision-making.
  • Behavioral symptoms which include inactivity, reduced self-care, reduced communication, and lack of energy.

Causes of Negative Symptoms

Negative symptoms can be caused by numerous factors, including genetics, prenatal or postnatal trauma, and side effects of certain medications. They can also result from a lack of access to psychological treatment or a lack of positive reinforcement by family, friends or peers.

Negative Symptoms and Mental Health Concerns

Negative symptoms are associated with a variety of mental health concerns such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These symptoms are often difficult for individuals to recognize and can interfere with an individual’s ability to engage in normal activities or participate in therapy or activities.

Treating Negative Symptoms

Treating negative symptoms involves understanding their cause, as well as managing and treating the underlying condition associated with them. Psychotherapy, support and education are important in treating and managing negative symptoms and their associated concerns. Additionally, medications such as antipsychotics and antidepressants are used to help manage the symptoms. An individualized treatment plan should be created and monitored by a doctor or mental health professional provide the best outcomes.