The Early Signs of Schizophrenia

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All Patients Show Early Signs

Most people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia experience the signs and symptoms in a slow and gradual way. The mental illness may also appear suddenly, however these cases are rare.

What Are the Early Signs or Changes in the Person’s Behavior?

The early signs of schizophrenia are depression, suspiciousness, hostility, social withdrawal, and the person is unable to concentrate. Furthermore, the person may make irrational comments and speak in a strange way. The words the individual expresses are in odd statements. Inappropriate crying or laughter may occur, and in some cases the inability to cry or laugh at all. Criticism is hard for someone with this mental condition to take. The reaction to criticism is extreme and easily provokes hostile or hurt feelings. Loss of interest in hobbies, school, or work tends to lean towards isolation. The behavior can be unpredictable in ways that can be confusing to family and friends.

Are There Physical Signs?

The answer to that question is yes. The physical signs of schizophrenia are that the person may stop caring about their personal appearance and stop taking a bath or changing clothes. Another physical sign is that because insomnia is quite common amongst schizophrenics they are exhausted. Sometimes they keep going until they have no choice but to sleep. Then they tend to oversleep because of the exhaustion. This is a repeating cycle. Another physical sign is an expressionless gaze. The expression is a flat meaningless stare.

When do the Signs of Schizophrenia Manifest?

The signs of schizophrenia can manifest during the late adolescence years, however most cases appear during early adulthood. It has been determined that about 1% of the population suffers from this disorder. Detecting the early signs can make a difference in the treatment of this mental illness. When the diagnosis is determined in the early stages the treatment can prevent future episodes.

Do All The Signs Occur At Once?

Studies show that not all people display all of the signs of schizophrenia. In some cases, only a few are present when diagnosed. Schizophrenia affects people in different ways.

On A Special Note

The early signs of schizophrenia can be very similar to other disorders. It is important that a physician or mental health care professional see anyone who displays these symptoms. With their special training, they will be able to determine the proper diagnosis and treatment. Early detection in some patients has prevented more severe episodes, and has enabled them to receive treatment to be able to live normal and functional lives.


National Alliance on Mental Illness Ken Duckworth, M.D

Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association)

The British Journal of Psychiatry 112: 225-251. doi: 10.1192/bjp.112.484.225 James Chapman M.D., D.P.M

Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital Malcolm B. Bowers, MD

Yale University School Of Medicine