Negative symptoms in schizophrenia: a review

Nord J Psychiatry. 2008;62(5):334-41. doi: 10.1080/08039480801959307.


Negative symptoms refer to the weakening or lack of normal thoughts, emotions or behaviour in schizophrenia patients. Their prevalence in first-episode psychosis is high, 50-90%, and 20-40% of schizophrenia patients have persisting negative symptoms. Severe negative symptoms during the early stages of treatment predict poor prognosis. The aim of the study was to review the current literature on the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. In June 2007, the following databases were searched: Web of Science, PubMed, PsycINFO, Medline (Ovid) and Scopus. The search included articles written in English and no time limit was determined. The studies were manually screened by one of the authors according to the title and abstract. About one in three schizophrenia patients suffer from significant negative symptoms. In these patients, negative symptoms constitute a key element of overall symptoms, weakening their ability to cope with everyday activities, affecting their quality of life and their ability to manage without significant outside help. About one in three schizophrenia patients suffer from significant negative symptoms. Attention should be focused on negative symptoms during the early phase of treatment, because they cause significant impairment to patients' quality of life. So far, no treatment appears to substantially improve negative symptoms narrowly defined. However, according to clinical experience, when treating negative symptoms, the best effect is achieved by optimizing the dose of medication and by complementing it with psychosocial therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology
  • Cognition Disorders / complications*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mood Disorders / complications*
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders / drug therapy
  • Mood Disorders / psychology*
  • Prognosis
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy / methods
  • Quality of Life
  • Schizophrenia / complications*
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / therapy
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*