Slow Schizophrenia Onset

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Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder affecting around one percent of the population around the world. No one knows exactly what causes it although there is a genetic element as it can run in families. However, even people without a family history of the condition can develop it. There is currently no cure although around a quarter of people developing symptoms of Schizophrenia will go on to make a full recovery.

Both males and females suffer from Schizophrenia in roughly equal numbers but males are more likely to develop the symptoms earlier such as in their late teens or early twenties, than females, who are most likely to experience their first symptoms in their early thirties.

Schizophrenia can develop slowly or suddenly. Slow onset Schizophrenia, also known as gradual onset or insidious Schizophrenia is when the symptoms of Schizophrenia develop slowly over a period of time so that it can be quite some time before the individual, their family and friends realise there is a problem. The so called negative symptoms of Schizophrenia are likely to be more common than the positive symptoms.

Negative symptoms of Schizophrenia include the following:

•    A ‘flattening’ of the emotions and speech where the individual may appear to lack emotional expression, their faces seem unresponsive and their speech can seem monotonous and devoid of any warmth
•    An apparent inability or unwillingness to partake in social activities and conversations, they will often say little or nothing at all
•    The individual may not be able to make or stick to any goals
•    Social isolation and seeming to prefer their own company
•    Neglect of personal hygiene
•    A lack of ability to enjoy oneself or experience pleasure

Schizophrenia can also develop abruptly with an acute psychotic episode and can sometimes happen after experiencing an extremely stressful or traumatic event in life. The symptoms of acute Schizophrenia are a lot more obvious as they will usually include the so called positive symptoms of Schizophrenia.

Positive symptoms of Schizophrenia include the following:

•    Hallucinations – hearing, seeing, tasting, feeling, smelling something that isn’t really there. Auditory hallucinations are the most common in Schizophrenia
•    Delusions – believing in something that isn’t true and sticking to that belief despite rational explanations or evidence to the contrary
•    Disorganised thinking – unable to connect thoughts together

Slow onset Schizophrenia or Schizophrenia that develops early in life is associated with a worse prognosis than Schizophrenia that develops suddenly. It is essential that treatment begins early as there is also evidence that if treatment is delayed when the symptoms first appear, the outlook is worse than when treatment is started early.

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