Residual Schizophrenia: Definition, Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Someone who has had a schizophrenic episode within 12 months and has another mild onset of symptoms has residual schizophrenia, whereby people relapse into another schizophrenic episode or have fewer problems with mental illness. Due to nature, it is essential to obtain treatment from trained therapists who specialize in this type of schizophrenia.

What is residual schizophrenia?

It is one of the five types of schizophrenia characterized by a long-term history of negative symptoms and infrequent positive symptoms.

The term ‘positive symptoms’ is used to describe something that is believed to be natural for the patient but is false for everyone else and is most often seen in the early stages of schizophrenia and can be caused or triggered by stressful situations, such as a diagnosis of breakup or illness. Positive symptoms are also seen as “crazy” by the general public. These symptoms cause fear or anxiety in other people and are often portrayed negatively in the media.

To be diagnosed with residual schizophrenia, a patient must experience positive symptoms at some point, but this could take years to develop.

Residual schizophrenia is considered the least severe type of schizophrenia, and patients can live everyday lives. They may have what is known as waxing and tapering phases. During the waxing phase, the symptoms intensify, and during the waxing stage, they diminish and even disappear.

Symptoms of residual schizophrenia

The symptoms experienced in this subtype are generally considered to be of less intensity and less severity than others, usually involving a person experiencing minimal positive signs of the disease, with more negative symptoms and, in some cases, more cognitive symptoms. Below are some symptoms that a person with residual schizophrenia may experience if they have been formally diagnosed.

One year of minimal/reduced symptoms

To be diagnosed with residual schizophrenia, the person must undergo at least one full year in which their symptoms are substantially reduced or of minimal intensity. During this time, the person may experience symptoms. Still, they may be barely noticeable and may not prevent it from working too much, may not experience many delusions, hallucinations, or even notice negative symptoms. This long time with minimal signs or no symptoms (e.g., remission) distinguishes residues from other subtypes.

Absence of dementia / other diseases and disorders

Any neurodegenerative illness such as dementia must first be eliminated to diagnose the condition properly. They must also have major depression with psychotic features ruled out. In other words, all other medical conditions must be ruled out before the diagnosis of residual schizophrenia can be assumed.

Negative symptoms

Although positive symptoms may be more common, a person with residual type may experience adverse symptoms. These include:

  • Little affection: The person may be unable to show or express their emotions, they may appear to have no feelings, and they may appear to have a blank, blank look as they speak in monotony.
  • Slow psychomotor functioning: The psychomotor activity of the person is significantly reduced. This means that they have difficulties thinking, staying motivated and active, and can become utterly apathetic if there is a lot of deceleration.
  • Inactivity: The person may sit in one position for long periods or become inactive. In other words, they will appear lazy, lethargic, and without any motivation or energy to complete basic tasks.
  • Passivity: The individual can become utterly passive in his environment.
  • Poor communication: The person may not be able to communicate appropriately or show poor speech. Not only does verbal communication suffer, but nonverbal cues like eye contact, facial expressions, and posture also suffer.
  • Poor hygiene: The person may neglect their essential habits, such as brushing teeth, cleaning, bathing, washing dishes, etc.

Psychotic episode

The person will have experienced at least one psychotic episode in the past. Hallucinations, delusions, etc., may characterize this episode. Most people with the residual subtype have experienced at least one episode of psychosis.

  • Delusions: The person may experience false beliefs that other people are out to obtain them and that they are being followed, or that the government is spying on them. These are false beliefs that the person with schizophrenia believes to be true even though there is significant evidence. Contrary. These are not experienced very often in people with residual subtypes.
  • Hallucinations: The person can hear voices and see things that are not based on reality. Agents can say hurtful things to you and encourage the person to engage in violence or self-harm. Usually, the person with the residual subtype does not experience hallucinations.

Causes of residual schizophrenia

Causes of residual schizophrenia

As with other types of schizophrenia, the exact cause of residual schizophrenia is unclear. Some studies have shown that brain dysfunction may contribute to its onset, but why this dysfunction occurs has not been determined.

People with other subtypes such as: catatonicdisorganizedparanoid or undifferentiated can develop residual schizophrenia. As long as the illness enters a period of long-term remission, it could be classified as “residual schizophrenia.”

It has been speculated that environmental triggers also contribute to its development. Additionally, a dopamine imbalance has also been found to contribute to schizophrenia, and serotonin, another neurotransmitter, has been found to play a role in the onset of schizophrenia.

Researchers identified some risk factors, including genetics, viral infections, fetal malnutrition, stress during the first years of life, childhood abuse or trauma, parental age of conception, and drug abuse.

Others believe that it is the result of biopsychosocial factors. Depending on the particular subtype, there could be several different causes. For example, suppose you have the catatonic subtype. In that case, catatonia symptoms are primarily due to problems with the neurotransmitter, and if you have paranoid schizophrenia, it could be the result of overactive dopamine receptors.

What are the dangers of residual schizophrenia?

The greatest danger of residual schizophrenia is that it can relapse into another full schizophrenic episode. Other risks involve the symptoms of schizophrenia in general. In this case, residual schizophrenia usually produces milder symptoms but can still cause complications in various aspects of life. Because of this, it is essential to consider treatment for this mental disorder before a minor problem becomes a major one.

Important features

Residual schizophrenia is only a temporary phase of the larger clinical picture in many cases. The schizophrenic individual may transition from an acute psychotic episode to a period of complete remission or vice versa. However, this is not always the case. The individual may have been in remission, and then something triggers the mild symptom flare but not another acute episode. The symptoms of residual schizophrenia can vary in terms of duration. Some patients last only for a short period, and others, can remain in a residual phase for several years.

If a patient currently meets the criteria for any of the other four types of schizophrenia, residual schizophrenia cannot be diagnosed. The diagnosis can also change from time to time, depending on the symptoms present during a thorough evaluation.

What is the treatment for residual schizophrenia?

To properly treat residual schizophrenia, it is highly recommended that you work with a psychiatrist so they can help you find a medication or multiple medications that work to reduce symptoms and prevent relapse.

Antipsychotic medications

The first line of treatment for all types of schizophrenia is antipsychotic medications. These target dopamine activity and can significantly reduce positive symptoms. Unfortunately, they come with many side effects, including weight gain and motor problems, and the new “atypical” class of these drugs is believed to have fewer side effects than the older “typical” class.


Antidepressant medication may be prescribed to help treat negative symptoms in some cases. The most commonly prescribed class of drugs is SSRIs, but doctors may also consider ACTs and MAOIs if they do not interact with the antipsychotic. Antidepressants are sometimes used as an augmentation strategy when they do not help reduce negative symptoms.


In some cases, people with this subtype can be hospitalized when symptoms become severe. A hospital visit may involve injecting antipsychotic medications, and behaviors can be closely monitored by a professional.

Natural supplements

In some cases, people can be successful using natural remedies for schizophrenia. These include things like antioxidants, amino acids, etc.


Individuals with residual schizophrenia generally go into remission. During this remission or “decline” phase of the illness, they may benefit from therapy sessions. It can provide the person with social and emotional support, help them better understand their symptoms, and learn how to function better in society. Read more information about Psychotherapy.

Social support network

A social support network of family, acquaintances, and friends can improve symptoms in people with residual schizophrenia. This will help guide them during times when they are struggling. People with social support tend to have a better long-term prognosis than those isolated from society.

Vocational training

If the schizophrenia is severe enough to prevent the person from getting a job, they can enroll in some vocational training. This will help the person learn a skill and possibly qualify for a job and help them stay productive and contribute to society.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

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