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  • Writer's pictureDr. Tarra Bates-Duford

Schizophrenia and Late Onset Symptoms

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder characterized by abnormal social behavior and failure to understand what is real. The vast majority of people diagnosed with or have developed symptoms of schizophrenia do so in their late teens or twenties, with men tending to develop symptoms at a slightly younger age than women. More than half of all lifetime cases of mental illness typically begin by age 14; three quarters have begun by age 24. Like most significant mental health disorders, schizophrenia has been positively correlated to heredity and genetics. Some people also do not develop symptoms related to schizophrenia even though there is genetic history of the disorder in one’s family. However, like most illnesses there are always exceptions, some people may not develop symptoms of schizophrenia early in life such as teens or early twenties but later, like 30’s 40’s & 50’s. Schizophrenia diagnoses made after age 40 is characterized as late-onset schizophrenia. Late onset schizophrenia can be very confusing for those experiencing symptoms, treatment providers, and researchers. Symptoms of early onset schizophrenia and late onset schizophrenia present the same symptoms, whether experienced earlier or later in life both meet the same diagnostic criteria. A diagnosis of late-onset schizophrenia is also sometimes complicated by the possible presence of other age-related physical and mental disorders.

Unfortunately, people diagnosed with late onset schizophrenia are more likely to suffer from paranoid type delusions, creating trust and communication problems in his or familial, social, and romantic relationships. However, those with late onset symptoms are less likely to experience negative symptoms associated with the disorder. Fortunately, the prognosis for people diagnosed with late onset schizophrenia is more favorable than that of persons diagnosed with schizophrenia at an earlier age. Women unlike their male counterparts are more likely to be diagnosed with late onset schizophrenia. Potential causes of late onset schizophrenia are even more difficult to pinpoint than why women develop late onset symptoms at a higher rate than men. Many mental health treatment providers and theorists believe that individuals diagnosed with late onset schizophrenia are pre-disposed for the condition and do not express any symptoms until later in life when environmental stressors such as retirement, a significant life event such as death, retirement, a personal crisis, etc.


Taylor is a 43-year-old successful vice president of one of the most respected universities in New York. She enjoys her work with both faculty and students. Becoming vice president of ABC University has been a dream come true for Taylor as she has worked towards this goal her entire career. 3 months ago Taylors month died after a long bitter struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Taylor became fearful stranger to a woman that had once given birth to her, a woman she had considered her best friend. Prior to her mother’s death, Taylor began to experience auditory hallucinations, voices telling her “it was probably for the best that her mother was dying”. She also could have sworn she heard indistinct whispers from her colleagues about her. She started to feel like both colleagues and students were gossiping about her. Taylor never really knew her father as she was raised in a single parent household by her mother. However, she heard rumors growing up from other family members that her father suffered from schizophrenia. Once Taylor began to see and hear things others insisted they did not see or hear she became increasingly paranoid. She became extremely distraught about the implications of these symptoms, afraid to question what she was seeing, hearing, or even feeling. She has made several attempts to mask her preoccupation with internal stimuli leading her to appear disorganized and distracted. Should she explore mental health treatment or continue to try and mask her symptoms.

#Schizophrenia #Mentalillness #LateOnsetSymptoms #Men #Women

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