What are the Warning Signs of Schizophrenia?: Understanding the Symptoms Seen in a Schizophrenic at the Onset

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Schizophrenia is often regarded as a complex form of mental illness and especially when left untreated even with prescription drugs has severe consequences in all aspects of a sufferer’s life. Although the exact cause of the condition still remains unknown, much research undertaken in this area indicates that a combination of factors such as genetic and environmental factors play a significant role.

As with most forms of mental health conditions, there are some identified early warning signs which may indicate that a person is in the early stages of developing the disorder. Such warning signs may be spilt into two categories: changes in behaviour or performance and changes in thoughts or feelings.

What are ‘Prodomal Symptoms’ of Psychotic Disorders?

The term ‘prodomal phase’ is used by doctors and other mental health professionals to describe the period where the earliest symptoms of the disorder are seen. For example the prodomal phase in schizophrenia sufferers refers to the very beginning of onset where the sufferer’s initial symptoms of either apathy or withdrawal may usually go unnoticed.

Prodomal symptoms relate to the different traits, preferences and behaviours which may be recognised in adults or children as early signs of developing psychosis related conditions.

Schizophrenia and Changes in Behaviour or Performance

There are several early warning signs associated with schizophrenia that may manifest in changes in the individual’s performance or behaviour. Social isolation is common and involves the person withdrawing from friends and seeming to prefer being alone. Decreased motivation, sleep difficulties and reduced concentration as well as deterioration in terms of appearance are also common.

While many of the warning signs may also be indicative of depression there are others which are more indicative of schizophrenia including: little facial expression, monotone/disorganised speech, difficulty comprehending others, inappropriate or irrelevant statements used in conversation and being very easily distracted.

Schizophrenia and Changes in Thoughts or Feelings

Changes in thoughts and feelings are more common in children who are in the early stages of developing the condition however many are not easy to spot and are therefore prone to going unnoticed. Typical changes may relate to altered perceptions and sensations which results in things either sounding or appearing different. The individual may be more sensitive in terms of smell, taste, sound and sight and hear voices or see things that are not real.

Another common change in thinking involves sufferers becoming increasingly suspicious of other people including believing they are being watched or followed. In addition, feelings of anxiety, irritability, mental confusion and thinking one is superior through delusions of grandeur are also common.

As highlighted above, there are many different warning signs that may indicate an individual is in the early stages of developing schizophrenia. This is why rehabilitation is most important, particularly in cases where there are other family members or relatives suffering from the condition, it is a sensible idea to ensure one is familiar with possible warning signs.

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