Therapies for negative symptoms

What are negative symptoms of schizophrenia?

The negative symptoms of schizophrenia refer to an absence of normal functions. This may include (but is not limited to); blunted affect, which is a scarcity of facial expressions of emotion, reduced frequency and range of gestures and voice modulation, and restricted eye contact; alogia (poverty of speech); asociality (reduced social interaction); avolition (reduced motivation and often poor hygiene) and anhedonia, which is reduced experience of pleasure, often manifesting as scarcity of recreation, inability to experience closeness, and reduced interest in sexual activity.

Psychosocial therapies may provide a clinical adjunct to pharmacological therapy, and include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), hallucination focused integrative treatment, acceptance and commitment therapy, experience focused counselling, family intervention, metacognitive training, mindfulness, social skills training, and supportive therapy.

What is the evidence for psychosocial treatments for negative symptoms?

Moderate to high quality evidence shows a small to medium-sized benefit of CBT for greater improvement in negative symptoms than treatment as usual. Moderate quality evidence finds skills training, occupational therapy, music therapy, and exercise also provided small to medium-sized benefits for negative symptoms when compared to treatment as usual. The factors associated with the most benefit were skill enhancement, behavioural activation, social engagement and neurocognitive factors.

February 2022

Image: ©Igor Stevanovic –

Last updated at: 1:18 pm, 15th February 2022
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