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Can schizophrenia appear late in life?

Mark Moronell, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The National Institute of Mental Health states that signs of schizophrenia almost always appear before people enter their mid-40s. Schizophrenia starts earliest for men, who usually become sick around age 18. Women may not experience an onset of the disease until they turn 25. However, other disorders can cause symptoms in the elderly that mimic schizophrenia. For instance, dementia can cause psychotic symptoms for some older individuals. They may become confused, hallucinate, or have paranoid delusions. For this reason, antipsychotic medications are sometimes prescribed for people with dementia who are having psychotic symptoms. Another disease that affects older people is Alzheimer's disease. This condition can cause symptoms of psychosis for about 50% of the people affected.
The onset of schizophrenia is typically between 14 to 35 years old. It rarely appears before 10 years of age or after 40 years of age. The average age of onset depends in part upon the subtype of schizophrenia. Most subtypes present before 25 years of age. The paranoid subtype usually presents later at between 25 to 40 years old. In addition, male patients tend to have symptoms earlier than female patients.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.