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Douglas Severance, MD, Family Medicine, answeredSchizophrenia can sometimes begin in the adolescent and teenage years. Symptoms of schizophrenia often start in the late teenage and early adulthood years. When symptoms of schizophrenia appear in young teenagers, it is known as early onset schizophrenia. Sometimes it is hard to tell when a teenager is exhibiting normal teenage behavior versus symptoms of schizophrenia. For instance, many teens change friends, become socially isolated, withdraw from their parents, and perform poorly in school. Teens also have unpredictable sleep schedules and are often irritable. Unfortunately, these symptoms also mimic signs of drug and alcohol abuse. However, when these symptoms are accompanied by paranoid or suspicious thoughts, a parent may want to talk to a doctor, especially if there is a family history of mental illness. A doctor or mental health professional can help a parent who is concerned about their teenager.