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What are warning signs of schizophrenia?

Below is a list of warning signs that suggest the onset (or return) of schizophrenia. It was developed by families who have a member with schizophrenia. Some of the behavior is within the range of normal responses to situations. However, families felt that even with the mildest of symptoms there was a vague, yet distinct, awareness that the behavior was "unusual".

The unusual behaviors and symptoms described below will not be unusual to families whose relative has already experienced acute episodes of schizophrenia. For them, these symptoms may indicate the return of a more acute phase of the illness.

Here are examples of unusual behavior and symptoms that may indicate relapse or onset:
 
  • Dropping out of activities (skipping classes)
  • Decline in academic or athletic performance
  • Social withdrawal, isolation
  • Deterioration of social relationships
  • Excessive fatigue and sleepiness or inability to sleep
  • Staring, vagueness
  • Apparent indifference, even in highly important situations
  • Inability to express emotion
  • Irrational statements
  • Conversation that seems deep but is not logical or coherent
  • Peculiar use of words or language structure
  • Excessive writing without apparent meaning
  • Inability to concentrate or cope with minor problems
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Inappropriate laughter
  • Deterioration of personal hygiene; eccentric dress
  • Frequent moves, trips or long walks leading nowhere
  • Undue preoccupation with spiritual or religious matters
  • Strange posturing
  • Unusual sensitivity to stimuli (noise, light)
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
Many families noticed that there was no logical flow of ideas during conversation. Others noticed that their relative began speaking out loud to no one, and did not seem to hear other people speaking to them. One young man began researching all religions and cults. Another young man began turning off all radios because he believed that he was receiving messages from them. In some families, their relative destroyed bank books, birth certificates and photographs.
Signs of paranoia became apparent in many cases. A relative would begin talking about plots against him or her and had "evidence" that he or she was poisoned. One man said that his wife assumed that whenever she saw people talking, they were talking about her.

Siblings often felt that their brother or sister was merely lazy and shirking responsibility; children were embarrassed and confused by their parent acting so differently. 

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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.