The strength of “negative” symptoms of schizophrenia such as blunted speech, social withdrawal and inability to experience pleasure tends to reduce over time both with and without treatment, according to a study in Psychological Medicine.
Psychiatric researchers from the World Health Organization collaborating Centre for Mental Health Service Development at Queen Mary University in the UK conducted a meta-analysis of 41 studies with 5,944 participants. “Negative symptoms were found to significantly reduce in all treatment interventions, including in placebo and treatment as usual conditions,” they wrote.
“This finding offers a further critique of the historical argument which suggests schizophrenia is a disorder of continual decline and instead provides further support to the recovery model of schizophrenia,” they concluded. “Overall, these findings suggest that negative symptoms may not be as resistant to change as what has previously been assumed, and perhaps offer new hope to those who may experience such symptoms.”
Savill, M., C. Banks, H. Khanom, and S. Priebe. “Do Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia Change over Time? A Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Data.” Psychological Medicine 45, no. 08 (June 2015): 1613–27. doi:10.1017/S0033291714002712. (Abstract)