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Avolition in Schizophrenia: 4 Things You Need to Know

Avolition in Schizophrenia: 4 Things You Need to Know

When people think of schizophrenia, they often immediately think of hallucinations and delusions. Those are, in fact, the main symptoms of schizophrenia. But some people also experience avolition. This article will help you understand what it is, how it is treated, and how friends or family members can help someone with schizophrenia who is experiencing it. 

What Is Avolition?

Avolition is a lack of motivation to do even simple, everyday tasks, such as caring for personal hygiene or eating meals. It is considered a negative symptom of schizophrenia because it refers to skills or actions that a person is lacking or unable to do. It differs from apathy. People experiencing apathy just don't care about doing something. People with avolition want to do things but cannot find the energy or motivation they need to carry out the tasks. 

What Are the Signs of Avolition?

Lack of Eye Contact

Speech Changes

Failure to Take Care of Responsibilities

Neglecting Personal Hygiene

Refusal to Participate in Activities

How Is It Treated?

One of the complications of avolition is that it is difficult to treat with medication. Antipsychotic medications control the positive symptoms of schizophrenia. This means they are meant to eliminate or reduce unwanted thoughts and behaviors, such as hallucinations, delusions, or agitation. There are currently no drugs that are specifically able to control the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, such as avolition. In fact, some antipsychotic medications can even increase avolition.

"I was feeling unmotivated to pay my bills, so I did not pay my bills. The consequence was that my electricity got turned off."

This does not mean that avolition cannot be treated at all. Psychotherapy can be helpful. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, has been shown to have positive results. In CBT, patients learn how their thoughts and feelings influence their behaviors and understand the consequences of those behaviors. For instance, one might realize, "I was feeling unmotivated to pay my bills, so I did not pay my bills. The consequence was that my electricity got turned off."

Making that connection may help them find the energy to do tasks despite their avolition. CBT can also be used to help people practice the skills needed to do activities such as going to a job interview, going to the doctor, interacting with friends and family members, etc.

Cognitive Enhancement Therapy is another newer type of therapy that can be used to treat avolition and other negative symptoms of schizophrenia. In this type of therapy, patients work in pairs to complete cognitive tasks on a computer. They also participate in highly structured small groups that focus on social and cognitive skills.

One added challenge is that people experiencing this may lack the motivation to make, or go to, their therapy appointments. This can make treatment difficult.

How Can I Help Someone Experiencing this?

If you are a friend, family member, or caregiver of someone with schizophrenia who is experiencing avolition, there are several things you can do to help them. 

Help Them Create a Schedule

Make Sure They Take Their Medication

Offer to Make a Doctor’s Appointment for Them

Keep Communication Simple

Remember That They Are Not Just Lazy

Keep Them Company

Help Them Get Help

Conclusion

image credit : Pexels

While many of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia can be very difficult to deal with, negative symptoms such as avolition can be just as harmful, or more so. Learning as much as you can about avolition can be a first step in fighting it. Be aware of the symptoms of avolition and realize that it is different from laziness or apathy. If you are a caregiver or friend of a person dealing with avolition, find ways to support them and let them know that you care. 

Featured image credit Pexels

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