They usually start between ages 16 and 30. Men often get them earlier than women.
When the disease is in full swing and symptoms are severe, the person with schizophrenia can't tell what's real and what's not. This happens less often as they get older.
People with the condition usually aren't aware that they have it until a doctor or counselor tells them. They won't even realize that something is seriously wrong. If they do happen to notice symptoms, like not being able to think straight, they might chalk it up to things like stress or being tired.
If you're concerned that you or someone you know is showing signs of schizophrenia, talk to a doctor or counselor.
The changes you see are "add-ons" to normal behavior. The person starts thinking or doing things they didn't think or do before.
Hallucinations. They might hear, see, smell, or feel things no one else does. Most often they'll hear voices inside their heads. These might tell them what to do, warn them of danger, or say mean things to them. The voices might talk to each other.
Delusions. These are beliefs that seem strange to most people and are easy to prove wrong. The person affected might think someone is trying to control their brains through their TVs or that the FBI is out to get them. They might believe they're someone else, like a famous actor or the president, or that they have superpowers.
Confused thoughts and speech. People with schizophrenia can have a hard time organizing their thoughts. They might not be able to follow along when you talk to them. Instead, it might seem like they're zoning out or distracted. When they talk, their words can come out all jumbled and not make sense.
They can also have trouble concentrating. For example, they might lose track of what's going on in a TV show as they're watching.
Different movements. Someone with the condition can seem jumpy. Sometimes they'll make the same movements over and over again. But sometimes they might be perfectly still for hours at a stretch, which is called being catatonic. Contrary to popular belief, people with the disease usually aren't violent.