Pages Navigation Menu

The Stages of Schizophrenia

The Stages of Schizophrenia

A person does not suddenly wake up one morning with a new illness called schizophrenia.  The development of schizophrenia is a process that takes place over varying periods of time depending on the individual, but it is never a sudden manifestation.  There might be the first sudden noticing of the symptoms, however.  The process of the revealing of this latent illness in the brain happens in a typical fashion, enough so for most everyone dealing with it that we can now classify four stages of schizophrenia.

The four stages or phases of schizophrenia can be labeled as:

  • The Prodromal Stage
  • The Acute Stage
  • The Remission Stage
  • The Relapse Stage

Let’s take a look at each of these individually and see what’s involved at each various stage or phase.

The Four Stages of Schizophrenia

The different stages symptoms of schizophrenia can easily be confused as something other than schizophrenia because they don’t just resemble symptoms from other disorders, they are symptoms from other disorders.

A person may begin feeling a sense of depression, anxiety, nervousness, and other typical and normal mood fluctuations.  For the normal onset of schizophrenia during the late teens and early adulthood, these are very common feelings to have anyways as we travel through our lives and encounter the stresses of adulthood, careers, relationships, etc.

The more obvious symptoms to look for in people with schizophrenia are out-of-character anger outbursts, strange behaviors, or social withdrawal.  The early stages of schizophrenia can last for months or years before developing into the acute stage.

The Prodromal Stage of Schizophrenia

The prodromal phase indicates the period from when the first change in a person occurs until he or she develops full-blown psychosis. In other words, it’s the time measure leading up to the first apparent psychotic episode.

Imagine that you start to suppress socially, little by little, with no visible triggering event present. You become uncharacteristically uneasy, have trouble making decisions and start to have difficulty focusing and paying attention. You could be starting a schizophrenia prodrome.

In this stage of prodromal schizophrenia, a person may very well not notice that anything is happening to them because the changes are so subtle and slight in their growth.  Other people around them will likely notice these changes before the sufferer does due to the peculiarity of being the experiencer.

The Acute Stage (Or Active Stage)

The active phase, also termed the acute phase, is identified by hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and extremely disorganized speech and behaviors. During this stage, patients resemble very obvious psychotic disorder. If left untreated, active psychotic symptoms can last for weeks or months. Signs may improve to the case where the patient must enter the hospital for acute care and treatment.

This is the phase where schizophrenia could be said to be fully developed.  In this acute stage, the true symptoms of schizophrenia will manifest themselves at their peak intensity.  One may become completely aware for the first time that there is a problem due to the sudden experience of an acute psychotic break.  This means that psychosis has appeared in full-force.  But it doesn’t always happen suddenly and can again be a gradual appearance.

Either way, the individual may or may not retain enough awareness of the problem to realize anything is wrong and ask for help.  Perhaps they will or friends and family will notice.  This is typically when the first hospital and psychiatric visits occur and a diagnosis can be made.  This stage of highly active and intense symptoms tends to last on average six weeks but can reside in as little as four weeks or as long as eight weeks.  Then the symptoms go into remission.

The Remission Stage

After the intense activity of the symptoms resides they are said to have gone into remission.  The intensity and appearance of the symptoms may decrease drastically and some may disappear altogether.  With treatment, they can be kept at bay for long periods of time and normal functioning can continue for the most part.  If you’re reading this with a sense of hope, please do feel hope and hang in there!

However, don’t expect the symptoms to be gone forever.  Sometimes they can be managed in that way, but it is more realistic to expect the possibility of symptom cycling, which means a relapse might occur.  Through these cycles though, you will gain practice and with the help of the psychiatrist, you can dial in the perfect type and amount of medication and possibly achieve complete remission.
This treatment improves the patient get back to living a normal life. If therapy helps to manage the condition, it is the remission phase. On the other hand, if symptoms begin to get worse again, this can be identified as a relapse.

The Relapse Stage

The relapse stage is just the reappearance of the symptoms back to an acute level.  This can be avoided or at least the damage minimized by continuing to follow the treatment plan laid out for you by your doctor.  You can also become familiar with the feelings and signs of an impending relapse or psychotic episode and speak to your doctor right away.  There may be ways to keep it at bay medically.

Also, arm yourself with the knowledge of why many people dealing with schizophrenia tend to not reach out for help during these times, such as the appearance of paranoia which confuses clear thinking.  One of the big ways people end up causing a relapse is that when their symptoms are in remission they think they don’t need their medication anymore and they stop taking it.

There are probably uncomfortable side effects to some of the medications, but they are less severe than the full-blown active stage symptoms.  You can probably ask to switch medications to something that doesn’t give you unreasonable side effects as well.

How to Treat a Person with Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia treatment and management involves quite a number of things. There is medical treatment wherein the patient may be given antipsychotic drugs. Psychological therapy is another way of dealing with the disorder, and this may include Social Skills Training and Family Psychotherapy. A patient can also undergo Cognitive Remediation Therapy which aims to address cognitive impairment.

Ayurvedic treatment may also be an option for some people. Although, there is still a continuing debate regarding its effectivity. A combination of these treatment plans can successfully help the patient to effectively manage the symptoms, improve one’s mental health, and ultimately recover from the disorder.

Final Thoughts on the Stages of Schizophrenia

As always, continue with your medication plan, stay in counseling and therapy, social support groups, and stay healthy in other ways.  By doing this, the complications of schizophrenia can be held to a minimum.


  1. How young can you experience schizophrenic symptoms. Because I remember experiencing delusions at the age of eight. I thought the world wasn’t real. I wanted to see if this is normal.

  2. I wish they hurry and find a cure for schizophrenia

[slidetabs id="1744"]

Pin It on Pinterest