The symptoms of schizophrenia typically develop around the age of adolescence, and young adulthood for men. Whereas they tend to develop during a woman’s late 20’s or 30’s, however, this is not always the case. Symptoms may develop suddenly or gradually. There are three phases of schizophrenia, the prodromal phase, active phase, and residual phase. Depending on where you live, you might be told that there a four stages to schizophrenia including the previous three, as well as the relapse phase.
Prodromal schizophrenia is typically the first phase of oncoming schizophrenia. The symptoms of the prodromal phase are often vague and easy to miss, they tend to mimic other disorders making it difficult to be noticed; particularly in teenagers, as the symptoms may not seem unusual for someone of that age, hence why schizophrenia often goes undiagnosed at this point. This phase can last for weeks or months, and at times, even up to several years. The symptoms of the prodromal phase are typically triggered by stress and stressful events, such as upcoming exams, the death of a family member or friend, bullying, and numerous other causes of stress. Comorbid disorders can be rather common during this period.
Individuals who are experiencing the prodromal phase of schizophrenia are often adolescents or young adults who are experiencing mild to moderate disturbances in perception, cognition, stress tolerance, energy levels, language, and motor function. The symptoms which develop during the prodromal phase tend to develop gradually, an individual may start to lose interest in their hobbies and usual pursuits, they may withdraw from friends and family, resulting in isolation. Individuals within the prodromal phase may find that they are easily confused, have difficult concentrating, are intensely preoccupied with religion, philosophy, the paranormal, and conspiracies.
The prodrome / prodromal phase of schizophrenia is not a full psychotic break, rather a display of abnormal behaviour similar to, but not as severe as that which is seen in psychotic patients.
Please do not use this as a diagnostic tool, the symptoms which have been previously mentioned are typical of the prodromal phase, however, these symptoms can be due to other causes or mental illnesses. Therefore if you have any concerns or display any of the previously mentioned symptoms, please speak to your doctor or psychiatrist.