Early Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Diagnosing schizophrenia often takes years, as it can be slow to develop and easy to mistake for other mental health conditions in its early stages.

Since children of schizophrenic parents are more likely to inherit the disease, it's important to understand what warning signs to look for that might be indicative of the disease.

Motor and mental skills

Experts estimate that some motor and mental impairments might be visible as young as age 11. Look for problems with short-term memory, verbal memory, attention deficits and "imaginary" friends that seem to last beyond the age of about 6 or 7. While all children develop at different rates, talk to your doctor if you're concerned about a particular problem or symptom--especially if you have a family history of schizophrenia.

Emotional and social symptoms

People with schizophrenia have a more difficult time being "normal" in social settings than others. Some things to watch out for might be a lack of connection or emotion, inappropriate responses to tragedy or loss (such as laughing), monotone speaking, lack of confidence or inability to pick up on and exhibit social niceties and etiquette.

Symptoms of psychosis

Psychosis doesn't always develop in schizophrenics right away, but it is the most identifying characteristic of the disease. The hallmarks are: hallucinations, when a person sees things that aren't there; delusions, when a person has ideas or imaginings that are not based in reality; and paranoia, when a person believes he is truly in danger or being threatened by someone or something that poses no real harm.

Disordered thinking

The classic term "word salad" is used to describe how a schizophrenic's speaking can get scrambled and make no sense, such as incoherent rambling or muttering. Memory can also be affected, so much so that a schizophrenic can recall an event but not remember where or with whom it took place. Schizophrenics are also easily distracted, allowing their endeavors to get in the way of plans or daily activities.

Source: New York Times Health

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