The first signs of schizophrenia usually emerge during adolescence or early in adulthood but they have also been known to appear in people over 40 years old.10
Men as well as women are at risk of developing schizophrenia. The symptoms in men tend to appear at a younger age than in women.11
The symptoms of schizophrenia vary from one individual to another, but are generally categorized as:5
Positive symptoms (e.g. hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and agitation) which are normally absent in healthy people and are considered to be ‘added’ as a result of the disorder.
Negative symptoms can be seen as behaviours that are ‘missing’ (e.g. lack of: drive or initiative, emotional responsiveness, enthusiasm, social interaction).5 Most people have these psychological capabilities but people with schizophrenia have ‘lost’ them to some degree.
Affective symptoms which can affect mood - such as depression, anxiety, loneliness or suicidal thoughts.
Cognitive symptoms include difficulties with concentration and memory, e.g. lack of attention, slowness of thought, lack of insight (understanding & acceptance) of the illness.
Patients with schizophrenia may experience dysfunction in one or more areas of major life activities such as interpersonal relations, work or education, family life, communication, and self-care.5
Most people with schizophrenia experience several psychotic episodes (periods of time in which positive symptoms are more relevant) during a lifetime.6-8 The positive symptoms usually vary over time and may worsen during periods of relapse and improve when in remission.1 People with schizophrenia can lead relatively normal lives between psychotic episodes, appearing emotionally healthy and stable, although negative symptoms often appear after the first episode and can remain for a long time and worsen after it.1,9 A continuous or recurring pattern of illness is known as chronic schizophrenia. Most patients with schizophrenia will require long-term treatment for the disorder, which will generally include the use of medication.1,9