Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can you develop schizophrenia at any age?"
I'm nervous about my friend. He seems to have changed. He doesn't seem to make sense and is doing things that are very out of character. Could he have a mental disorder like schizophrenia? Can you just all of the sudden become schizophrenic?
Schizophrenia is a mental disease that causes a distortion of reality. The symptoms usually either come on very slowly (and are often only noticed by close friends and family) or the develop suddenly after a traumatic life event. Either way, they occur in someone that was susceptible to the disease. Schizophrenia can be diagnosed at any age, but it is most commonly diagnosed in men in their 20s and 30s. As I said above, the first symptoms can be very subtle. People at the beginning of their illness are often described as odd, or acting strange. They may hold strange beliefs or act very paranoid about things that should not make them paranoid. They will begin to withdrawal themselves socially from the world. It is at these times (at the very beginning of their illness) that they should seek care from a psychiatrist. The earlier treatment begins the better. If you truly believe that your friend is showing possible signs of schizophrenia, then you should do your best to get him to see a psychiatrist. This is the only type of doctor that is equipped to both accurately diagnosed the disease, and provide the best initial treatment. Hopefully he will agree to be seen.
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