Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that distorts the way a person thinks, behaves, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. Persons with schizophrenia often have problems functioning in society, in relationships (socially, romantically, and familial) at work, and at school. Schizophrenia is considered by many to be the most chronic and disabling of the major mental illnesses. Schizophrenia can interfere with daily functioning, leading to confusion, social withdrawal, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, etc. Unfortunately, schizophrenia cannot be cured, however, symptoms can be appropriately managed with the right treatment.
The early signs of schizophrenia often occur during the teen years making it difficult to recognize the signs of the disorder because of cognitive and emotional changes related to adolescence. The earliest signs of schizophrenia 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. The period before formal schizophrenia symptoms appear is known as the “prodromal” period and lasts about five years. Interestingly, men generally suffer from schizophrenia more severely than women. Unfortunately, symptoms also seem to appear in men much earlier than they do in women. Symptoms related to schizophrenia generally appear in males between the ages of 15-20 and in females between the ages of 20-25. Often, men are less responsive to medicinal intervention than women.
- Schizophrenic males are less likely than schizophrenic females to respond positively to medicinal interventions.
- Symptoms are usually present at an earlier age in males.
- Symptoms related to schizophrenia are typically more severe in males.
- Males schizophrenics more so than female schizophrenics tend to experience a lack of will and directed energy.
- Men tend to have more trouble with joblessness and homelessness.
- Males tend to experience more challenges with decision making.
- Struggle with completing tasks
- Females with schizophrenia tend to respond better to medication.
- Women are more likely than men to hold down a job and experience milder symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Women are more likely than males to have successful romantic relationships
- Women with schizophrenia are more likely to marry.
- Schizophrenia symptoms are less severe in females than in males.
Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia
- Cognitive impairment or distortion
- Difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality
- Social withdrawal or isolation
- Interruptions in normal sleeping pattern
- Paranoid or delusional thinking
- Familial history of schizophrenia or other psychosis
- Unusual behavior or thinking
- Hearing or seeing something that isn’t there
- Strange body positioning
- Inability to concentrate
Positive symptoms of Schizophrenia include:
- Disorganized thinking and speech
- Disorganized behavior
Negative symptoms of Schizophrenia include:
- Emotional flatness
- Social isolation or withdrawal
- Lack of energy, drive, or initiative
- Extreme apathy (lack of interest or enthusiasm)
Although, there is no cure for schizophrenia treatment options are available to effectively manage symptoms related to the disorder. The goal of schizophrenia treatment is to reduce the symptoms related to the disorder and decrease the chances of a relapse, or return of symptoms. Treatment for schizophrenia may include medication, cognitive remediation, psychosocial intervention, hospitalization, and Electroconvulsive therapy.