The early signs of schizophrenia mostly happen in the teen years and this can make them difficult to spot because these early schizophrenia signs are similar to behaviors often seen in teens in general. The very earliest schizophrenia signs often occur before the age of 16, but they may not become noticeable until between the ages of 16 and 30. Men tend to experience signs of schizophrenia earlier than women (see the difference in schizophrenia in men and women). The period before formal schizophrenia symptoms appear is known as the "prodromal" period and lasts about five years.1
Childhood schizophrenia is rare but can occur. Little is known about childhood schizophrenia but research is ongoing.
Ten Schizophrenia Early Warning Signs
Early signs of schizophrenia include:2
- Change in friends, drop in grades
- Sleep problems
- Cognitive impairment (may appear in childhood)
- Difficulty telling reality from fantasy
- Social isolation and withdrawing from others
- An increase in unusual thoughts, perceptions and suspicions
- Odd manner of thinking and speaking
- Paranoid ideas
- Family history of psychosis
Any one of these early signs alone does not indicate schizophrenia, but when seen in a cluster, may be early warning signs of schizophrenia. Early treatment of schizophrenia or psychosis increases the chance of successful treatment.