In contrast to a short-term psychosis or “break,” schizophrenia is a chronic, severe,
and disabling brain disorder that has the prominent symptom of psychosis.
Schizophrenia affects about 1% of Americans. Adolescent-onset schizophrenia is
uncommon; childhood-onset schizophrenia is rare. More often, symptoms such as
hallucinations and delusions start between ages 16 and 30. Symptoms may include
delusions, hallucinations or disorganized speech, and an impaired ability to function.
Common signs and symptoms of schizophrenia are:
• Delusions: False beliefs that are not based in reality occur in most people with
• Hallucinations: Seeing or hearing things that don’t exist but seem real.
Hearing voices is the most common hallucination.
• Disorganized thinking: Cognitive symptoms such as a poor ability to
understand information and use it to make decisions and trouble
focusing or paying attention. Cognitive problems can make it very difficult to
begin and sustain planned activities, lead a normal life, and earn a living.
These symptoms they can cause great emotional distress.
• Disorganized or abnormal motor behavior: This may include agitation or
useless and excessive movement.
• Abnormal emotions: A person may appear to lack emotion, not make eye
contact, not change facial expressions, speak in a monotone, or not add hand
or head movements that normally occur when speaking. Also, the person may
have a reduced ability to engage in everyday activities or lack the ability to
Schizophrenia is thought to be caused by several factors, including abnormal brain
anatomy and chemistry, but exact causation is not fully understood. It is known that
schizophrenia is heritable, and, compared to the general population, it is ten times
more likely to afflict people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder, such
as a parent, brother, or sister. An identical twin of a person with schizophrenia has
a 40% to 65% chance of developing the disorder.
A combination of factors can help predict which young people are at high risk of developing
schizophrenia. They include social isolation and withdrawing from others,
an increase in unusual thoughts and suspicions, and a family history of psychosis.
In young people who develop schizophrenia, this stage of the disorder is called the
Predicting which adolescents with prodromal features will develop psychosis is not
straightforward, and the majority of “high-risk” individuals never go on to develop
a psychotic disorder. According to a director of the U.S. National Institutes of
Very recently, the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study
(NAPLS) has improved prediction. Combining different types of
information—cognitive testing, clinical features (e.g., unusual
thoughts, suspiciousness, a decline in social functioning), a history
of traumatic events, and a family history of psychosis—over 70
percent of those identified as high risk went on to develop psychosis.
For the first time, we can accurately detect risk for psychosis
in someone with prodromal symptoms, and the accuracy appears
equal to or better than our predictions of heart disease or dementia.
The bad news is that we don’t yet have an intervention proven to
prevent psychosis in those at risk. . ..
Early identification and treatment may help get symptoms of childhood and
adult-onset schizophrenia under control. Early treatment is also crucial in helping
limit psychotic episodes, which can be extremely frightening to an adult or to a
child and his or her parents.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.