Prodromal Schizophrenia

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Although schizophrenia may appear to develop suddenly, especially to those who are not involved in the day-to-day life of someone with the disorder, people don't just wake up one morning with full-blown schizophrenia. The onset of psychotic symptoms in a person with schizophrenia is often preceded by a period of decreased function that is known as the prodrome or prodromal phase of schizophrenia.

Prodromal schizophrenia is the phase of the disorder during which a person is just beginning to develop symptoms of illness. This phase typically begins a year or two before the onset of psychosis (symptoms like hallucination and delusions), and during this time the person possesses a higher level of insight into their condition than someone with schizophrenia - meaning they are aware that there is something not quite right with the way they are feeling.

Prodromal symptoms include social withdrawal, anxiety, trouble making decisions, and difficulty with concentration and attention. Because these symptoms are common to a number of mental conditions, the prodromal phase of schizophrenia is often recognized as such only in hindsight, after a person has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

People who have prodromal symptoms of schizophrenia do not always go on to develop the illness, and there is currently no standard pharmacological treatment for this stage of schizophrenia. There are possibilities for treatment, however, and people with prodromal symptoms should consult a mental health professional right away.