What could be signs of impending schizophrenia?


The signs of schizophrenia are manifold and unfortunately not always clear. These are the symptoms or abnormalities that a person shows shortly before a schizophrenic episode. Usually such a relapse is announced before the actual symptoms of schizophrenia begin. Unfortunately, these precursors are not specific and individually different, so there are no general warning signs. Nevertheless, some signs are more common than others and can be interpreted as harbingers, especially in the case of a known schizophrenia.

What are the typical signs?

There are no specific, but typical signs of schizophrenia. These occur in a variety of mental illnesses and mainly affect the state of mind. For example, patients with incipient schizophrenia are often moody, suspicious and emotionally unbalanced long before the actual schizophrenia occurs.

This phase is called the prodromal phase and begins years before the onset of the disease. It occurs in many illnesses, for example also in depression. In schizophrenia, however, this phase is usually more pronounced.

Those affected often notice little of these changes themselves, but their relatives notice them. The prodromal phase can range from slight mood swings to massive personality changes. Positive symptoms typical of schizophrenia, such as delusions or hallucinations, do not yet occur.

These are called positive because they are added to normal thinking and feeling. However, negative symptoms, which denote the absence of emotions and other cognitive functions, can occur at this early stage. These include depressive moods, anxiety and restlessness, thinking and concentration disorders, distrust and similar symptoms.

The result is often a social withdrawal, through which the affected persons become downright isolated. One speaks of a social handicap that these people go through and thus can no longer be a regular part of society. However, since these symptoms are not specific to schizophrenia, the disease is not recognised and consequently not treated. By the time the real schizophrenia finally develops, most of those affected have long been excluded from the rest of society.

Is there a test for schizophrenia?

There are many tests for schizophrenia, especially on the Internet. However, since the signs of schizophrenia are unspecific and the person affected does not notice them as such, there is no need to clarify these symptoms. Moreover, most of these tests are not particularly meaningful and do not replace a visit to the doctor, so that the performance of these tests can be seen as critical from the outset.

Nevertheless, if you have a well-founded suspicion of schizophrenia, you can of course consult such tests, especially as a relative. Good tests should ask about the symptoms of the prodromal phase, as the typical symptoms of schizophrenia do not yet appear in this early phase. Tests for already severe schizophrenia will not detect this early stage and will be false negative.

Therefore, tests are most likely to be useful for people who have had a relapse and are suspected of having a relapse. In these patients, the individual characteristics of the schizophrenia are already known, they can remember the prodromal phase and, if necessary, recognise parallels to the current situation. In this case, however, a visit to the doctor treating the patient would be more sensible than carrying out tests. In summary, although tests for schizophrenia and its signs exist, they are rarely used or are not useful.