The average schizophrenia age of onset is in early adulthood, but anyone of any age can develop this condition and the symptoms of psychosis that accompany it.
Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that affects how you interpret reality. It’s characterized by symptoms of psychosis, and false sensory experiences like hallucinations, delusions, and disjointed thoughts.
While there are many
Overall, a 2021 worldwide meta-analysis of 192 epidemiological studies found that globally, the average schizophrenia age of onset was between
If you’re very young or advanced in age, you’re less likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, but this condition can impact anyone of any age, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, or sex.
|Demographic||Average age of onset|
|Very early-onset/childhood schizophrenia (under 13 years of age)||9–12 years|
|Early-onset/adolescent schizophrenia (13–18 years of age)||14 years|
|Late-onset schizophrenia: (40 years and older)||40–45 years|
Your genetics may influence at what age your symptoms develop.
At the time of publication, no research relating to the onset of schizophrenia in transgender, gender nonconforming, or intersex individuals could be found. However, the risk of mental health symptoms does increase during puberty, so it stands to reason that second puberty could be a triggering factor as well.
No matter your sex, if you’re at higher risk of schizophrenia, you may want to work with a therapist or psychiatrist to help you monitor your mental health during puberty and your 20s.
In this article, we use “male and female” to refer to someone’s sex as determined by their chromosomes, and “men and women” when referring to their gender (unless quoting from sources using nonspecific language).
Sex is determined by chromosomes, and gender is a social construct that can vary between time periods and cultures. Both aspects are acknowledged to exist on a spectrum both historically and by modern scientific consensus.
Age of diagnosis
The age you receive a schizophrenia diagnosis determines if you have early-onset, adult-onset, or late-onset schizophrenia.
Because schizophrenia in children is rare, large-scale research is limited on the average age symptoms that emerge in this group.
In adolescent schizophrenia (early-onset schizophrenia) a 2016 cohort study using a Medicaid claims database, found, out of 613 cases, the average age of early-onset schizophrenia in adolescents was approximately 14 years.
The same review identifying differences by sex also found a peak onset of late-stage schizophrenia between 40 years and 45 years, predominantly in females.
Symptoms of early-onset schizophrenia can include:
- saying things that don’t make sense
- unusual behavior or bizarre thoughts, ideas, or beliefs
- seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
- decline in academics
- mixing fantasies, like television or dreams, with reality
- personality changes
- extreme mood shifts
- decline in personal hygiene
- intense anxiety or fearfulness
- loss of friendships/inability to make friends
- persistent confusion
Do people living with schizophrenia know they have it?
Schizophrenia is a disorder that alters your perception of reality. This means what you’re experiencing can feel real to your senses even if it’s not actually happening.
Many people living with schizophrenia aren’t able to acknowledge the presence of the disorder. This isn’t because they’re in denial — it’s due to a psychological state called anosognosia.
Anosognosia occurs when you can’t think clearly enough to establish awareness of symptoms. A 2014
There’s no single test that can tell you if you’re living with schizophrenia.
Receiving a diagnosis comes after an evaluation by a mental health professional where you’ll discuss your symptoms, medical history, and use of prescription or recreational substances.
A formal diagnosis of schizophrenia comes by meeting criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR).
The DSM-5-TR criteria define schizophrenia as experiencing at least two of the following symptoms of psychosis for a significant amount of time over a 1-month period:
- disorganized thinking
- disorganized motor function or catatonia
- extreme stress and anxiety
At least one of the symptoms you’re experiencing must be hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized thinking.
Getting support for schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition, but early treatment can help improve your long-term outcomes.
Receiving care during your first episode of psychosis, for example, can help you control symptoms quickly and might decrease how frequently you’re admitted to the hospital for future care.
Once you’ve met with your healthcare team, a blend of medication and psychotherapy approaches will be recommended to help minimize how schizophrenia impacts your daily life.
If, at any time, you would like to learn more about schizophrenia, or would like access to resources in your area, you can speak confidentially with a mental health representative by calling the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that affects how you interpret reality. It can emerge at any age, but most commonly appears in adulthood, between the ages of 25 and 27, and sooner in males than in females.
Symptoms in children may be different than in adults, and many people don’t realize they’re living with schizophrenia.
Timely treatment, including the use of medications and psychotherapy, can help improve long-term outcomes.