Early Adulthood

It is the conventional wisdom that schizophrenia "begins" in early adulthood, but this is an oversimplification. The average age for the onset of the first clear-cut psychotic episode is usually in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, as noted above, adults with schizophrenia have cognitive and behavioral difficulties from early life, which can precede their first psychotic episode. The onset of psychosis is also variable and can come on gradually, over a period of months or relatively suddenly.

Early adulthood is when psychotic symptoms are most prominent, and patients typically have more hospitalizations during this period than at any other time in their lives. The severity of their symptoms, and the impairment of function that they suffer, usually plateaus within the first 5 to 10 years after onset. However, a small percentage of patients has severe and unremitting psychosis, and many are never able to return to independent function (Green, 1996).

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