Several therapies, including cognitive rehabilitation, cognitive remediation or cognitive enhancement, education, psychotherapy, and behavioral training combine to ensure a perfect way of combating negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
An issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter said 'negative' symptoms have more effect on the quality of life of a schizophrenic patient than the 'psychotic or positive' symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.
Negative symptoms are marked by absence as much as presence: inexpressive faces, monotone speech, few gestures, seeming lack of interest in the world, and inability to feel pleasure. 'Positive symptoms make treatment seem more urgent. But negative symptoms are the main reason patients with schizophrenia cannot live independently, hold jobs, establish personal relationships, and manage everyday social situations. These symptoms are also the ones that trouble them most,' says Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.
Negative symptoms are closely related to limitations in cognitive abilities, such as mental flexibility and the capacity to pay attention and shift focus when necessary. Such mental limitations also affect real-world functioning and the outcome of the illness.
A form of therapy called cognitive rehabilitation is being used to teach people with schizophrenia how to safely communicate their needs and show that they understand the needs of others. Also called cognitive remediation or cognitive enhancement, this therapy involves exercises that require patients to pay attention and to read social situations. The Harvard Mental Health Letter suggests that caregivers and doctors can also help combat negative symptoms by providing education, psychotherapy, and behavioral training, as well as help with employment, housing, and family relations.