While no single symptom is indicative of schizophrenia, the main types of symptoms experienced are grouped into five areas. Not all individuals with schizophrenia experience all symptoms, and the expression of the illness is extremely varied.

Common symptoms of schizophrenia


Delusions are unshakable false beliefs, often involving persecution, guilt or grandeur, or being under outside control. People with schizophrenia may describe plots against them or think they have special gifts and powers. Sometimes they withdraw from people or hide to avoid imagined persecution.


Hallucinations are false sensory experiences, most commonly involving hearing voices. Other less common experiences can include seeing, feeling, tasting or smelling things that to the person are very real, but that are not actually there.

Common signs of schizophrenia

Disorganised speech

Thought Disorder and disorganised speech is experienced as confused thinking, where speech may be difficult to follow with no logical connection. Both thoughts and speech may be jumbled and disjointed.

Abnormal body movements

Abnormal motor behaviour has a range of expression. When acutely ill, some people with schizophrenia may become agitated or display strange postures or movements (called catatonic behaviour).

Low affect or motivation

Negative symptoms include a lack of drive, and often blunted emotions. For many individuals the ability to engage in everyday activities, such as washing and cooking, is reduced. This lack of motivation and initiative is a core part of the illness, and is not laziness.