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What Are The Early Signs Of Schizophrenia

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Fact Sheet: Early Warning Signs Of Psychosis

Childhood Schizophrenia: What Are the First Signs?

Typically, a person will show changes in his or her behaviors before psychosis develops. The list below includes several warning signs of psychosis.

  • Worrisome drop in grades or job performance
  • New trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Suspiciousness, paranoid ideas 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

Any one of these items by itself may not be significant, but someone with several of the items on the list should consult a mental health professional. A qualified psychologist, a psychiatrist or a trained social worker will be able to make a diagnosis and help develop a treatment plan.

If you notice these changes in behavior and they begin to intensify or do not go away, it is important to seek help. Early treatment of psychosis increases the chance of a successful recovery.

Last reviewed: January 2016

Challenges In Reaching Out

It can be challenging for people with schizophrenia to reach out to a doctor or other health professional about their concerns. This can be particularly tough for people who may be experiencing symptoms that leave them feeling suspicious of others.

Reassurance from people they trust can be helpful in encouraging and prompting someone to speak with a doctor or other mental health professional.

Treatment For Signs Of Schizophrenia

At quality Tennessee schizophrenia treatment centers like Encore Health Group, we provide professional treatment for schizophrenia and other mental health disorders. Strategies in the treatment of mental health disorders include using medication and psychotherapy. Our experienced therapists can help you get your life back with individualized care.

We offer the following services:

  • Mental Health treatment

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The Importance Of Early Diagnosis And Treatment

Most people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia first show signs of the illness in their teens or 20s. Late adolescence is the typical age of onset, but some people develop schizophrenia even earlier. In extremely rare cases, the symptoms may even appear in childhood.

Regardless of the age of onset, most people diagnosed with schizophrenia will exhibit early signs. These arent easy to detect, especially because most families never assume their children will have this terrible illness.

It is important, however, to take early signs of psychosis and schizophrenia seriously. Theyre too often mistaken for teenage moodiness or even clinical depression, but recognizing the symptoms as early schizophrenia can lead to earlier and more effective treatment.

As with most kinds of illnesses, early treatment results in better outcomes. Studies have found that early interventions for schizophrenia, including antipsychotic medications and therapy, can actually delay the onset of psychotic episodes.

Can Someone With Schizophrenia Live A Normal Life

Psychology Infographic : 10 Early Signs of Schizophrenia # ...

While schizophrenia cannot be cured, with the right treatment plan many people with schizophrenia can live relatively normal lives outside of a healthcare setting. The treatment must be ongoing for the person with schizophrenia to continue to live a productive, fulfilling life, including maintaining a job or socializing with friends and family.

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How Psychologists Can Help

It used to be thought that recovery from schizophrenia was rare. However, evidence now suggests that schizophrenia is a treatable illness and recovery is possible. Some individuals have an initial psychotic episode, but do not have symptoms reoccur. For many others, the symptoms of schizophrenia improve naturally as they age. Clinical researchers are also optimistic, as new specialized treatment programs appear to promote better functioning and better outcomes.

Treatment for schizophrenia usually involves a variety of strategies to reduce the symptoms of the disease over the long term. Antipsychotic medications are often an important part of treatment. Such medications usually need to be taken daily to be effective.

Psychotherapy may also be a valuable part of treatment. Psychologists can help people with schizophrenia cope with the difficult effects of the disease, including challenges related to self-care, work, school, and relationships.

Family interventions in which relatives participate in therapy sessions may be particularly helpful for people with schizophrenia. A 2001 review of studies found that family interventions reduce rates of psychotic relapse or rehospitalization by 20% . A second review drew similar conclusions, and also found evidence that people with schizophrenia who participate in family therapy were more likely to take their medications as prescribed .

To find a psychologist in your area, use APA’s Psychologist Locator Service.

Early Symptoms Of Schizophrenia Involving Thoughts Cognitive Changes

Thoughts involve what someone is thinking about. Cognitive functioning refers to the way the brain processes and responds to information. Schizophrenia interferes in the contents of someones thoughts as well as her cognitive processing abilities.

Early schizophrenia symptoms in the areas of thoughts and cognitive processes make functioning difficult in many ways, such as:

  • Focusing on and doing tasks that require focusing, such as reading, working
  • Memory problems
  • Absence, failure in school or work because of increasing cognitive difficulties
  • Using incorrect words

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Positive Traits Are As Follows:


These are typically known to involves hearing, smelling, tasting or seeing things that arent actually there. Hearing voices that are telling the person what to do are often reported as a symptom. Even though these things are not real, a person with schizophrenia feels them in full force. Hearing things that are not there is often the most common kind of hallucination.


These are known as beliefs or ideas that are false but seem very real to the person experiencing them. The person may feel as though someone is watching them or spying on them. They may even believe that they are famous or a well-respected religious figure.

Disorganised speech/thinking

The person may often move from one topic to a completely different one in a single conversation. They may not be able to communicate properly so that you can understand them or the point they are trying to make. They may even make up their own words or repeat ideas and words.

Abnormal and disorganised behaviour

This can include actions that are silly and often child-like. The affected person may act inappropriately in either a social or sexual way or seem abnormally agitated. They may resist instructions, dress strangely or have strange posture or body movements .

When To Call A Doctor

Schizophrenia: Early Warning Signs

If you notice symptoms like these, your teen needs to be checked by a doctor right away. That’s especially true if anyone on either side of their family has had schizophrenia.

The doctor will ask your teen questions about their thinking and behavior, possibly perform a brief physical exam, and give them blood or urine tests to make sure there isn’t another medical condition or drug abuse problem thatâs to blame.

For a schizophrenia diagnosis, the symptoms have to last for at least 6 months and donât seem to be due to another medical or psychiatric condition. Sometimes it takes longer than 6 months to make a confident diagnosis, based on how symptoms appear over time.

Your family doctor can refer you to a psychiatrist who works with teens. A psychiatrist has special training in how to diagnose and treat schizophrenia.

If your teen has the condition, a combination of treatments may work best. These might include medication and individual and family therapy.

The diagnosis can be tough news to hear. But with the right treatment, people with schizophrenia do go to college, hold jobs, and have a family life.

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What To Look For

Symptoms in teens can come on gradually over days, weeks, several months or more. This is called the prodromal period. The early symptoms of schizophrenia can sometimes look like those of other problems such as anxiety or depression.

Especially at first, symptoms may look like the stuff of typical teen years: bad grades, changing friends, trouble sleeping, or irritability.

But there are some early warning signs in teens that show up as changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior.

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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First Episode Of Psychosis

The first episode of psychosis refers to when you first show signs of being unable to distinguish whats real from what isnt. It typically involves hallucinations and delusions, which can seem very real to the person experiencing them.

Experts say the average age at which people first experience psychosis is 24 years old. The oldest age of onset was 63 years and the youngest age was 3 years.

Acting quickly to connect yourself or your loved one with the right treatment during early psychosis can help dramatically. If you are a family member or friend, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional on behalf of the person you care about.

Early Signs Of Schizophrenia: The Warning Symptoms

The Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

It should be noted that many of these symptoms can be indicators of something as simple as major depression. However, when odd behaviors are coupled with isolation, preoccupation with religion, and the person drops out of all normal societal functions, this is a red flag for the possible development of schizophrenia.

It should be noted that many of these symptoms listed are not necessarily indicators of schizophrenia alone. There are many people that withdraw from social activities, become depressed, and sleep a lot because they are anxious, have depression, or another mental illness. However, if you experience many of these symptoms together, it is a likely indicator of schizophrenia.

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First Early Warning Signs Of Schizophrenia

The early warning signs of schizophrenia can be vague and mild. Family and friends of someone in the prodromal stage have described that it seemed that their loved one was gradually slipping away .

This sensation that a loved one is slowly slipping away is quite accurate, for essentially the person developing schizophrenia begins to undergo changes that involve turning inward into a world unknown to others.

Family and friends often describe changes in behavior and mood, such as developing different routines, withdrawal from activities and people, and low mood. Many of these early symptoms of schizophrenia resemble depression. The early warning signs of schizophrenia can be mistaken for not just depression but for an extended bad mood, a phase or teen angst , or substance use.

Other prodromal signs are mild forms of the hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized behavior and speech that are symptoms of schizophrenia. Someone might vaguely sense the presence of an unseen person later, this might become a full hallucination, with the person hearing, seeing, or feeling someone who isnt actually real. Likewise, in the early stage, the person might begin to form beliefs that are odd but not quite delusional.

Someone might experience a variety of specific early warning signs of schizophrenia throughout the prodromal period. Changes in behavior, emotions, thoughts, and cognitive functions can indicate impending schizophrenia.

Early Signs Of Psychosis

Psychosis is not a diagnosis, but a term used to describe a group of symptoms. Psychosis is a break with reality where the thoughts and perceptions of a person become disrupted. These changes happen gradually, typically in three phases: early, acute, and recovery.

The onset of first episode psychosis typically presents when an individual is between the ages of 18-25, however, may present between the ages of 15-40. It is uncommon for first episode psychosis to present in childhood.

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Who Is This Quiz For

Below is a list of 10 questions designed for people who are concerned about schizophrenia. Read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges.

If you have any been struggling for a month or more and those struggles have caused difficulties in functioning for the past six months, let your doctor know. This interactive quiz has been structured in a manner to allow for a short and simple self-assessment. The questions relate to life experiences common among people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and are based on criteria in the DSM-5.

How Is Schizophrenia Treated

Schizophrenia – Early Onset Of The Illness

There are different types of treatment available. Medical professionals should work with you to find the right treatment for you. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that you should be offered a combination of medication and talking therapies.

People who live with schizophrenia can respond to treatment differently.

For many treatment helps to reduce symptoms to help make daily life easier. You may find that you need to continue with treatment to keep well. For every 5 people with schizophrenia:

  • 1 will get better within 5 years of their first obvious symptoms.
  • 3 will get better but will have times when they get worse again.
  • 1 will have troublesome symptoms for long periods of time.

What medication should I be offered?

Your doctor may offer you medication known as an antipsychotic. These reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia, but dont cure the illness. Your healthcare professionals should work with you to help choose a medication. If you want, your carer can also help you make the decision. Doctors should explain the benefits and side effects of each drug.

In the past, some antipsychotics had negative side effects. Some people find that the side effects of newer antipsychotic drugs are easier to manage.

Your medication should be reviewed at least once a year.

What type of psychosocial treatment will I be offered?

Family intervention is where you and your family work with mental health professionals to help to manage relationships.

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How To Support A Family Member With Schizophrenia

Good support begins with early diagnosis and treatment, but if you have a loved one with schizophrenia, you will be coping with it for years to come. The most important things you can do are to encourage treatment and support your loved one so that they stay in treatment. This is a chronic illness, and it requires lifelong professional management.

You can also help your loved one by learning more about schizophrenia and encouraging and supporting them in making positive, healthy lifestyle changes. Several healthy habits support treatment and the management of symptoms:

  • Regular exercise to reduce stress and anxiety
  • Other healthy stress management tools such as meditation, breathing exercises, and regular yoga practice
  • A healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Positive social experiences including support groups and time spent with understanding and supportive friends
  • A regular sleep schedule and at least eight hours of sleep per night
  • Avoidance of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes

Schizophrenia can be a devastating mental illness, both for those diagnosed with it and their loved ones. Life can be better with schizophrenia with education, positive support, and ongoing, effective treatment. Interventions, especially early, make all the difference in how an individual lives with this illness.

Changes In Behaviour And Thoughts

A person’s behaviour may become more disorganised and unpredictable.

Some people describe their thoughts as being controlled by someone else, that their thoughts are not their own, or that thoughts have been planted in their mind by someone else.

Another feeling is that thoughts are disappearing, as though someone is removing them from their mind.

Some people feel their body is being taken over and someone else is directing their movements and actions.

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How Accurate Is It

This quiz is NOT a diagnostic tool. Mental health disorders can only be diagnosed by licensed healthcare professionals. Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that is difficult to diagnose. Just over 1% of the US population is estimated to have schizophrenia.

Psycom believes assessments can be a valuable first step toward getting treatment. All too often people stop short of seeking help out of fear their concerns arent legitimate or severe enough to warrant professional intervention.

When Schizophrenia Symptoms Start

What is Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and ...

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.

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Articles On What Is Schizophrenia Prodrome

If you have schizophrenia or know someone who does, you’re probably familiar with symptoms like hallucinations and delusions. But you may not realize that warning signs can show up before a full-blown episode. When that happens, it’s called a prodrome or prodromal period.

About 75% of people with schizophrenia go through a prodrome phase. It may last a few weeks, but for some people, these signs slowly worsen over several years.

What Are The Early Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia has preliminary, or early, symptoms and signs that can signal that this mental illness is developing. These early symptoms of schizophrenia are known as prodromal symptoms, and the period of time during which someone experiences them is called the prodromal stage of the illness however, someones symptoms or stage is described as prodromal only after the fact, once schizophrenia has fully developed and the symptoms cant be mistaken for something else.

When do schizophrenia symptoms appear? The average time frame for schizophrenia to develop once prodromal symptoms begin is two years . However, schizophrenia is a very individualized illness, and the length of the prodromal phase varies. Prodromal signs can begin anywhere from months to years before the illness develops into schizophrenia.

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