Symptoms Of Women With Schizophrenia
The criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia is the same for women as it is for men, but the features of schizophrenia differ between the genders. For example, women may exhibit depression or anxiety which may put them at a higher risk for suicide.2
Women with schizophrenia are lesslikely to have symptoms such as:
- Flat affect
- Blunted emotional responses
- Speech reduction
- Social withdrawal
Women with schizophrenia may be more physically active and more hostile than men with the illness. They may also experience more auditory hallucinations as well as paranoid and persecutory delusions. Paranoid delusions consist of thoughts like, my spouse is cheating on me, when he isnt. Persecutory delusions consist of thoughts like, Im being mistreated, when there is no actual mistreatment. Not every woman with schizophrenia will exhibit these features, but these trends have been noted in some large-scale studies.3
The Turning Point: Adolescence
An interaction between something in your genes and something in your environment probably causes the disease. Researchers still have a lot to learn about it, but it’s likely that many things play a role. Some, like exposure to a virus or malnutrition , might have happened while you were still in your mother’s womb. For vulnerable individuals, cannabis use can increase the risk of developing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.
No one knows exactly why it usually crops up in late adolescence, but there are many theories.
Your brain changes and develops a lot during puberty. These shifts might trigger the disease in people who are at risk for it.
Some scientists believe it has to do with development in an area of the brain called the frontal cortex. Others think it has to do with too many connections between nerve cells being eliminated as the brain matures.
Hormones also play a major role in puberty. One theory is that women get schizophrenia later than men because they go through puberty earlier and the hormone estrogen might somehow protect them. Know how to recognize the signs of schizophrenia in teens.
What You Can Do
Before the appointment make a list of:
- Any symptoms you’ve noticed, including when these symptoms began and how they’ve changed over time â give specific examples
- Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes that may be affecting your child
- Any other medical conditions, including mental health problems, that your child has
- All medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements that your child takes, including the doses
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The Most Common Early Warning Signs Include:
While these warning signs can result from a number of problemsnot just schizophreniathey are cause for concern. When out-of-the-ordinary behavior is causing problems in your life or the life of a loved one, seek medical advice. If schizophrenia or another mental problem is the cause, getting treatment early will help.
Cognitive Development Is Affected Early In Persons Who Develop Schizophrenia
For some illnesses, pathological changes begin years before symptoms appear. Alzheimers disease is a prime example. Although symptoms of dementia often are not apparent until persons reach their 70s or 80s, measurable changes in their brains start 20 or more years earlier. The possibility of detecting Alzheimers disease prior to the manifestation of clinical symptoms and initiating treatment in order to delay symptom onset may be achievable. Furthermore, for individuals who are at high risk to develop this disorder, it may be possible that treatments initiated prior to the beginning of the disease process may actually prevent the illness.
What about other brain disorders in particular schizophrenia? Schizophrenia is a chronic disorder associated with positive symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions, negative symptoms such as social withdrawal and decreased motivation, and cognitive symptoms such as poor working memory and problems with attention. Positive symptoms usually become clinically evident during adolescence or early adulthood and are often the symptoms that trigger psychiatric evaluation and treatment. Can changes in brain function be detected prior to the appearance of overt psychotic symptoms? If so, this might provide an opportunity to initiate potentially preventative treatments.
This post was written by Eugene Rubin MD, PhD and Charles Zorumski MD
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How Does It Feel To A Child
In the video below, Prof. Rochelle Caplan, an expert on childhood schizophrenia, talks about how the symptoms appear and the effect that they can have. The Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit organization, produced the video.
Prof. Caplan describes how symptoms appear gradually in most cases. She explains how the experience can be very scary for the child at first. To parents or caregivers, this may present similarly to anxiety.
The child may feel afraid, for example, because the hallucinations or delusions can feel threatening.
The child might also have trouble paying attention, and they may become irritable or have difficulty sleeping. Prof. Caplan notes that some of these changes can resemble rebellious behavior.
Understanding what the child is experiencing can help parents and caregivers react in a constructive way that can help the child.
According to the authors of one case study, early onset schizophrenia is when a child aged 1318 years experiences symptoms of schizophrenia.
Very early onset schizophrenia is when symptoms appear before the age of 13 years.
The researchers describe a child who experienced unusual perceptions from the age of 3 months.
There are no separate criteria to distinguish between childhood and adult schizophrenia.
What Is The Outlook For The Future
The outlook for people with schizophrenia continues to improve. Although there is no cure, treatments that work well are available. Many people with schizophrenia improve enough to lead independent, satisfying lives.
Continued research and understanding in genetics, neuroscience, and behavioral science will help scientists and health professionals understand the causes of the disorder and how it may be predicted and prevented. This work will help experts develop better treatments to help people with schizophrenia achieve their full potential. Families and individuals who are living with schizophrenia are encouraged to participate in clinical research.
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What To Expect From Your Doctor
Your child’s doctor is likely to ask you and your child a number of questions. Anticipating some of these questions will help make the discussion productive. Your doctor may ask:
- When did symptoms first start?
- Have symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are the symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve the symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen the symptoms?
- How do the symptoms affect your child’s daily life?
- Have any relatives been diagnosed with schizophrenia or another mental illness?
- Has your child experienced any physical or emotional trauma?
- Do symptoms seem to be related to major changes or stressors within the family or social environment?
- Have any other medical symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, tremors or fevers, occurred around the same time that the symptoms started?
- What medications, including herbs, vitamins and other supplements, does your child take?
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Molecular PsychiatryDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth EditionDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text RevisionIndian Journal of PsychiatryPsychiatric ServicesClinical Child Psychology and PsychiatryPsychiatric TimesFrontiers in PsychiatryPsychiatry ResearchJournal of the American Medical AssociationBritish Journal of PsychiatryAmerican Academy of Social Work and Social WelfareScience DailyClinical NeuropsychiatryCurrent Antipsychotics, Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, Vol. 212Molecular PsychiatryPsychiatria DanubinaSchizophrenia BulletinBritish Journal of PsychiatryScienceSocial Studies of ScienceThe British Journal of PsychiatryAmerican Journal of PsychiatryPatient CareAm J PsychiatryMen and MasculinitiesHistory of PsychiatrySchizophrenia Research TreatmentGerman Journal of PsychiatryLancetPsychiatric ServicesCurrent Opinion in PsychiatryEpidemiologic ReviewsPsychiatric ServicesNeuropsychopharmacology: The Fifth Generation of Progress, Fifth EdClinical Schizophrenia and Related PsychosesPsychological BulletinSchizophrenia ResearchClinical TherapeuticsHarvard Mental Health LettAmerican Journal of PsychiatryAmerican Journal of PsychiatrySchizophrenia BulletinJournal of PsychopharmacologySchizophrenia BulletinAmerican Journal of PsychiatryPsychiatric TimesSchizophrenia BulletinAutismAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
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Cognitive Symptoms & Thinking Problems
These symptoms reflect how well the personâs brain learns, stores, and uses information.
Someone with schizophrenia might have a hard time with their working memory. For example, they may not be able to keep track of different kinds of facts at the same time, like a phone number plus instructions.
Along with having trouble paying attention, it can be hard for them to organize their thoughts and make decisions.
The Age Of Onset In Men And Women
Its hard to pinpoint the exact onset of schizophrenia because people may have cognition problems or trouble in social relationships long before they are officially diagnosed. In general, schizophrenia is diagnosed in late adolescence through the early 30s.
Men are usually diagnosed between the late teens and early 20s, with a peak at 21-25 years of age. Women are diagnosed a few years later, at 25-30 or again after menopause.
The ages are just a guide. No matter when you notice any of the signs or symptoms of schizophrenia in yourself or a loved one, its important to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Symptoms include confusion, disorganized speech, and hallucinations .
At Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Hadi Estakhri helps his patients live better quality lives through symptom management.
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When Schizophrenia Symptoms Start
Symptoms usually start to develop in early adulthood, between late adolescence and the early 30s. The disorder typically becomes evident slightly earlier in men than in women. Symptoms often emerge between late adolescence and the early 20s in men and between the early 20s and the early 30s in women.
Women Tend To Develop Symptoms Of Schizophrenia Later Than Men And Often Exhibit Different Symptoms
There is no disparity in the occurrence and prevalence of schizophrenia between men and women, though schizophrenia is more closely associated with younger men. This may be due to the fact that women are more likely to experience the onset of schizophrenia later than men. Women tend to develop symptoms in their late 20s whereas the onset in men is typically in their early 20s.1 Also, because women with schizophrenia tend to be more socially active, their schizophrenia may be less detectable.
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Hope For The Patient And Family
A diagnosis of schizophrenia is life-changing for those affected and everyone who loves them. But, with hard work and dedication, you can help your loved one enjoy a meaningful life.
People with schizophrenia can finish college, work jobs, get married, have families and enjoy a reasonably healthy life, stresses Dr. Bowers.
But it requires a combination of good medication, supportive counseling and being connected to community resources.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers support groups for the mentally ill and their families. And organizations like Recovery International and Emotions Anonymous are excellent resources for patients, she says.
Frequently Asked Questions About Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.
Schizophrenia is a severe and debilitating brain and behavior disorder affecting how one thinks, feels and acts. People with schizophrenia can have trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy, expressing and managing normal emotions and making decisions. Thought processes may also be disorganized and the motivation to engage in lifes activities may be blunted. Those with the condition may hear imaginary voices and believe others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts or plotting to harm them.
While schizophrenia is a chronic disorder, it can be treated with medication, psychological and social treatments, substantially improving the lives of people with the condition.
A moving presentation by Dr. Kafui Dzirasa on Schizophrenia
View Webinar on Identifying Risk Factors and Protective Pathways for Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia affects men and women equally. It occurs at similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world. Symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions usually start between ages 16 and 30.
Learn more about childhood-onset schizophrenia from this expert researcher:
Find answers to more questions about Schizophrenia in our Ask the Expert section.
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How Can I Help A Friend Or Relative With Schizophrenia
It can be difficult to know how to help someone who is experiencing psychosis. Here are some things you can do:
- Help them get treatment and encourage them to stay in treatment.
- Remember that their beliefs or hallucinations seem very real to them.
- Be respectful, supportive, and kind without tolerating dangerous or inappropriate behavior.
- Look for support groups and family education programs, such as those offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
If your loved one is thinking about attempting suicide or otherwise harming themselves or others, seek help right away:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK .
- Text the Crisis Text Line .
Early Warning Signs And Symptoms
Usually, a person with schizophrenia has gradual changes in their thoughts and perceptions. Families are often the first to see early signs of psychosis and schizophrenia in a loved one.
Before the first episode of psychosis, you go through what is known as a premorbid period. This is the 6 months before the first symptoms of psychosis. During this period, you might experience gradual changes.
Although sleep disturbances are not included in the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia, people with the condition consistently report them.
Early warning signs include:
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Family Education And Support
Educational programs can help family and friends learn about symptoms of schizophrenia, treatment options, and strategies for helping loved ones with the illness. These programs can help friends and family manage their distress, boost their own coping skills, and strengthen their ability to provide support.
When Does Schizophrenia Start And Who Gets It
Schizophrenia affects men and women equally. It occurs at similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world. Symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions usually start between ages 16 and 30. Men tend to experience symptoms a little earlier than women. Most of the time, people do not get schizophrenia after age 45. Schizophrenia rarely occurs in children, but awareness of childhood-onset schizophrenia is increasing.
It can be difficult to diagnose schizophrenia in teens. This is because the first signs can include a change of friends, a drop in grades, sleep problems, and irritability — behaviors that are common among teens. A combination of factors can predict schizophrenia in up to 80 percent of youth who are at high risk of developing the illness. These factors include isolating oneself and withdrawing from others, an increase in unusual thoughts and suspicions, and a family history of psychosis. In young people who develop the disease, this stage of the disorder is called the “prodromal” period.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three broad categories: positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms
Positive symptoms are psychotic behaviors not seen in healthy people. People with positive symptoms often “lose touch” with reality. These symptoms can come and go. Sometimes they are severe and at other times hardly noticeable, depending on whether the individual is receiving treatment. They include the following:
Hallucinations are things a person sees, hears, smells, tastes, or feels that no one else can see, hear, smell, taste, or feel. “Voices” are the most common type of hallucination in schizophrenia. Many people with the disorder hear voices. The voices may talk to the person about his or her behavior, order the person to do things, or warn the person of danger. Sometimes the voices talk to each other. People with schizophrenia may hear voices for a long time before family and friends notice the problem.
Other types of hallucinations include seeing people or objects that are not there, smelling odors that no one else detects, and feeling things like invisible fingers touching their bodies when no one is near. Hearing voices is the most common type of hallucination in schizophrenia.
People with negative symptoms need help with everyday tasks. They often neglect basic personal hygiene. This may make them seem lazy or unwilling to help themselves, but the problems are symptoms caused by the schizophrenia.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
As schizophrenia usually develops gradually, it can be difficult to pinpoint when changes in behavior start or know whether they are something to worry about. Identifying that you are experiencing a pattern of concerning behaviors can be a sign you should consult with a professional.
Symptoms may intensify in the run-up to an acute episode of psychosis in schizophrenia. The warning signs include:
- A worrying drop in grades or job performance
- New difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating
- Suspiciousness of or uneasiness with others
- Withdrawing socially, spending a lot more time alone than usual
- Unusual, overly intense new ideas, strange feelings, or having no feelings at all
- Difficulty telling reality from fantasy
- Confused speech or trouble communicating
While these changes might not be concerning by themselves, if you or a loved one are experiencing a number of these symptoms, you should contact a mental health professional. It can be difficult for those with schizophrenia to want to get help, especially if they are experiencing symptoms such as paranoia.
If you or your loved one is thinking of or talking about harming themselves, contact someone who can help right away. You can call the toll-free, 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-237-8255.
If you require immediate emergency care, call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
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