Early warning signs of schizophrenia
In some people, schizophrenia appears suddenly and without warning. But for most, it comes on slowly, with subtle warning signs and a gradual decline in functioning long before the first severe episode. Many friends and family members of people with schizophrenia report knowing early on that something was wrong with their loved one, they just didn’t know what.
In this early phase, people with schizophrenia often seem eccentric, unmotivated, emotionless, and reclusive. They isolate themselves, start neglecting their appearance, say peculiar things, and show a general indifference to life. They may abandon hobbies and activities, and their performance at work or school deteriorates.
The most common early warning signs of schizophrenia include:
• Social withdrawal
• Hostility or suspiciousness
• Deterioration of personal hygiene
• Flat, expressionless gaze
• Inability to cry or express joy
• Inappropriate laughter or crying
• Oversleeping or insomnia
• Odd or irrational statements
• Forgetful; unable to concentrate
• Extreme reaction to criticism
• Strange use of words or way of speaking
While these warning signs can result from a number of problems—not just schizophrenia—they are cause for concern. When out-of-the-ordinary behavior is causing problems in your life or the life of a loved one, seek medical advice. If schizophrenia or another mental problem is the cause, treatment will help.
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