Deutsch: Symptom / Español: Síntoma / Português: Sintoma / Français: Symptôme / Italiano: Sintomo

In the context of psychology, a symptom refers to any manifestation of a condition that is experienced by an individual and indicative of a psychological disorder or mental health issue. Symptoms are the subjective elements of a disorder, which the individual reports to a clinician, in contrast to signs, which are objectively observed by others.

General Description

Symptoms in psychology are often behaviors, thoughts, or feelings that are unusual for the person and cause distress or significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. They are used by clinicians to diagnose and treat various mental health conditions according to criteria specified in diagnostic manuals like the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and the ICD (International Classification of Diseases).

Application Areas

Symptoms are critical in various aspects of psychology:

  • Clinical Psychology: For diagnosing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.
  • Counseling: Symptoms are discussed and explored in therapy sessions as part of the treatment process.
  • Health Psychology: In understanding how psychological symptoms affect physical health and vice versa.

Well-Known Examples

Common examples of psychological symptoms include:

  • Depression: Persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, feelings of guilt or low self-worth.
  • Anxiety: Excessive worry, nervousness, difficulty controlling feelings of anxiety.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Compulsions (repetitive behaviors such as hand washing) and obsessions (persistent unwanted thoughts).

Treatment and Risks

Identifying symptoms is the first step in treating any psychological condition. Effective treatment plans, which may include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both, are often developed based on the type and severity of symptoms. It’s crucial for treatment to be timely to prevent worsening of the symptoms, which can lead to more severe mental health issues.

Similar Terms

A related term is "sign", which in medical and psychological contexts, refers to an objective indication of some medical fact or characteristic that may be detected by a clinician. Another related concept is "syndrome", which refers to a cluster of symptoms that consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms.

Articles with 'Symptom' in the title

  • Factitious disorder with mostly physical symptoms: Factitious disorder with mostly physical symptoms refers to a type of Factitious Disorders. People with this disorder claim to have symptoms related to a physical illness, such as symptoms of chest pain, stomach problems or fever
  • First–rank symptoms (in Schizophrenia): First–rank symptoms (in Schizophrenia) : First–rank symptoms in Schizophrenia which is also known as Positive symptoms refer to characteristics that are notably present but normally absent in people’s experience, such as delusions . . .
  • Negative symptoms: Negative symptoms refer to the symptoms of schizophrenia, including affective flattening, alogia, avolition, and anhedonia, that involve functioning below the level of normal behavior
  • Negative symptoms in schizophrenia: Negative symptoms in schizophrenia deficits in functioning that indicate the absence of a capacity present in normal people, such as affective flattening which is also called Type II symptoms
  • Positive symptom: Positive symptom refers to more overt symptom, such as a Delusion or hallucination, displayed by some people with schizophrenia- other Postive symptoms include disturbed speech, and- disturbed behavior, that are exaggerations or . . .
  • Positive symptoms: Positive symptoms refer to the symptoms of Schizophrenia which inlcude delusions, hallucinations, disturbed speech, and disturbed behavior, that are exaggerations or distortions of normal thoughts, emotions, and behavior
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Withdrawal symptoms: withdrawal symptoms refer to physical or psychological symptoms such as convulsions, tremor, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, muscle pain and sweating that follow the abrupt discontinuation of a drug that produces physical . . .



In psychology, symptoms are vital indicators of underlying mental health conditions and are essential for diagnosis and treatment planning. They are the subjective experiences reported by the patient, which, when properly identified and understood, can significantly influence the effectiveness of subsequent psychological intervention and support.