Age at onset

How is age at onset important to people with schizophrenia?

Differences are observed in the age at onset of psychotic symptoms, which may be influenced by genetic or environmental risk factors, or sex. Understanding the factors that impact on age at the onset of symptoms could lead to better understanding of the risk factors for the disorder and earlier and improved intervention strategies.

What is the evidence for age at onset of schizophrenia?

Moderate to high quality evidence suggests the median age at onset of schizophrenia is around 25 years old. The incidence (i.e., new cases) of schizophrenia is higher in males up until around 40 years of age, then higher in females after around 50 years of age. Substance use, in particular cannabis, is associated with an earlier age at onset of psychosis, with no effect of tobacco use. There was also a small effect of an earlier age at onset in people with a family history of psychosis.

Moderate quality evidence finds small associations between an earlier age at onset and more hospitalisations, more negative, but not positive symptoms, more relapses, poorer overall functioning, and poorer overall clinical outcomes (in males only).

March 2022

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Last updated at: 2:15 pm, 27th March 2022
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary
Tags:  Age at onset

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