Psychotic symptoms (such as hallucinations and delusions) usually emerge in
men in their late teens and early 20s and in women in their mid-20s to early
30s. They seldom occur after age 45 and only rarely before puberty, although
cases of schizophrenia in children as young as 5 have been reported. In
adolescents, the first signs can include a change of friends, a drop in grades,
sleep problems, and irritability. Because many normal adolescents exhibit these
behaviors as well, a diagnosis can be difficult to make at this stage. In young
people who go on to develop the disease, this is called the "prodromal"
Research has shown that schizophrenia affects men and women equally and
occurs at similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world.
Penny Frese, PhD, was studying fine arts at Ohio University when she met her future husband. They saw each other for several months, and she noticed he avoided talking about anything personal. "We took a walk in a park, and it was toward the end of summer -- a gorgeous, beautiful day. I confronted him about not being totally honest … and he said he had had a 'schizophrenic break.'"
For some couples, that might have been the end. Frese went to the library and read up on schizophrenia. She learned...