What are the early warning signs and symptoms of schizophrenia?

What are the early warning signs and symptoms of schizophrenia?

What are the early warning signs and symptoms of schizophrenia?

Early warning signs

The symptoms and signs of schizophrenia are different for each person. The symptoms can sometimes develop over years or appear abruptly. The condition may also appear in cycles of remission and relapse.

There are a few behavioural symptoms that can indicate the presence of the condition, these are as follows:

  • Constantly feeling as if one is being watched.
  • Seeing or hearing something that is not real or present.
  • Writing or speaking in a strange or peculiar way.
  • Work and academic performance deteriorating.
  • Changes in hygiene and/or appearance.
  • Acting irrationally with anger or fear.
  • Not regarding important situations as important.
  • Being extremely preoccupied or focused on the occult or religion.
  • Strange, inappropriate and bizarre mannerisms and behaviour.

If some of the above symptoms are experienced over more than a period of 14 days, the patient or loved one should immediately seek a professional opinion and diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a condition that comes with a range of cognitive (thinking), behavioural and emotional issues. The symptoms and signs are often different and vary from person to person. The typical symptoms are known to include hallucinations, delusions, disorganised speech, impaired social interactions.

These symptoms are further explained as follows:

Symptoms can be classified as positive ones – those that add to the person’s personality and negative ones - those that are lost from the personality.  This can sometimes seem confusing so it is important to note that the use of the terms “positive” and “negative” are not describing the nature of the symptoms as being or having positive or negative connotations but simply they are adding something to the person, or taking something away from them.

Positive traits are as follows:


These are typically known to involves hearing, smelling, tasting or seeing things that aren’t 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 (exhibit catatonic behaviour).

Negative traits are as follows:

  • Lack of enthusiasm or interest, experiencing extreme apathetic emotions.
  • Withdrawing themselves socially.
  • Lacking initiative and drive.
  • Lack of facial expression (medically known as blunting of affect).
  • The absence of content in speech.
  • Impaired attention.

The symptoms of schizophrenia can change over time and can include the patient going through periods of remission, however, some symptoms are often always present and should be present for a month or more.

Men with schizophrenia generally start to show their symptoms in their early or mid-20s. However, women will generally show symptoms in their late 20s. It is not common for children to be diagnosed with the condition, not because it doesn’t exist in childhood, but rather because other disorders have similar symptoms and the child may be misdiagnosed. It is also very rare for adults over 45 to be diagnosed as most sufferers are diagnosed earlier in life.

Symptoms of schizophrenia in teenagers

Teenagers experience symptoms of schizophrenia in a similar way to adults. However, it can often be more difficult to diagnose or recognise in teenagers as hormonal changes of puberty are often attributed to personality changes.

Symptoms of schizophrenia in teenagers are often similar to those of developmental changes, these can include:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Having trouble with sleeping
  • Not performing well at school
  • Lacking motivation
  • Irritability or depression

When compared with the symptoms of schizophrenia in adults, teenagers vary in the following ways:

  • Delusions are not as prominent in teenagers
  • Hallucinations are more commonly seen in teenagers
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