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Top 10 Signs of Schizophrenia

Top 10 Signs of SchizophreniaSchizophrenia is a serious mental illness characterized by a broad range of unusual behaviors that cause profound disruption in the lives of the patients suffering from the condition — and often in the lives of the people around them, too. Schizophrenia strikes without regard to gender, race, social class or culture. It is most often first diagnosed in a person’s 20s: early- to mid-20s for men, later 20s for women.

Not everyone who has schizophrenia experiences every symptom. Some people experience a few symptoms, some many. The severity of symptoms varies with individuals and also varies over time. Just over 1 percent of the American population can be diagnosed with schizophrenia over the course of a year, and most people — over 60 percent — normally seek treatment for this condition. Treatment typically involves psychiatric medications combined with psychotherapy.

The top 10 signs of schizophrenia are:

  1. Delusions (believing things that are not true)
  2. Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there)
  3. Disorganized thinking (can’t keep thoughts ordered)
  4. Disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment of the conversation, loose associations, or talking incoherently)
  5. Agitation
  6. Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior (e.g., childlike “silliness,” resisting simple instructions, odd or rigid posture, repeated movements that serve no purpose)
  7. Lack of drive or initiative
  8. Social withdrawal
  9. Apathy
  10. Emotional unresponsiveness or lack of emotional expression

You can review the full symptoms of schizophrenia here, or check out additional resources in our Schizophrenia Education Guide.

Schizophrenic’s Thoughts Are Seriously Impaired

One of the most important kinds of impairment caused by schizophrenia involves the person’s thought processes. Because of the hallucinations and delusions they are experiencing, the individual can lose much of the ability to rationally evaluate their surroundings and interactions with others. These hallucinations and delusions reflect distortions in the perception and interpretation of reality and the world around them.

The resulting behaviors may seem bizarre to the casual observer, even though they may be consistent with the person suffering from schizophrenia’s internal perceptions and beliefs.

It is rarely helpful to challenge a person who has schizophrenia’s beliefs or hallucinations directly, since they may make a kind of sense to the person. Instead, a person should be seen professionally for treatment of this condition. Modern treatment for schizophrenia includes both medications and psychotherapy.

Additional Symptoms that Occur in People with Schizophrenia

Individuals with schizophrenia may also have:

  • Inappropriate displays of emotion (e.g., laughing for no reason)
  • Depression, anxiety or anger
  • Daytime sleeping, or disturbed sleep
  • Lack of interest in eating or food
  • Anxiety or a phobia
  • Problems with memory
  • Lack of insight or awareness of the schizophrenia symptoms

Need more information about schizophrenia? Learn more about schizophrenia now.



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition. New York.

National Institute of Mental Health (2017). Schizophrenia: Signs & Symptoms. Washington, DC. Retrieved from:

Top 10 Signs of Schizophrenia

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder & CEO of Psych Central. He is an author, researcher and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues -- as well as the intersection of technology and human behavior -- since 1992. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member and treasurer of the Society for Participatory Medicine. He writes regularly and extensively on mental health concerns, the intersection of technology and psychology, and advocating for greater acceptance of the importance and value of mental health in today's society. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Top 10 Signs of Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 14, 2018, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 9 Nov 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Nov 2018
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