Phases of Schizophrenia and How to Help

Phases of Schizophrenia

Phases of Schizophrenia and How to Help

According to the World Health Organization, schizophrenia affects around 20 million people worldwide. This chronic and severe mental disorder is often associated with a considerable disability but is treatable with medication and psychosocial support. The goal of schizophrenia treatment is to manage symptoms so that individuals can achieve a higher quality of life [1].

Schizophrenia is a complex disorder characterized by three distinct phases. Knowing which phase you are in is imperative when seeking the best viable treatment. Although there is some overlap, these three phases showcase unique signs and symptoms.

If you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or you are concerned about evolving symptoms, here’s what you need to know about the phases of schizophrenia and how to get the help you need.

Discover more about mental health treatment and how it can help you.

What Are the Phases of Schizophrenia?

There are three stages or “phases” of schizophrenia. Each phase has unique symptoms that healthcare professionals use to identify what phase you’re in so that you can receive proper treatment.

The three phases are:


This is the first stage, occurring before psychotic symptoms appear. During this phase, you will experience cognitive and behavioral changes that will later progress into psychosis.

The symptoms of this phase overlap with other mental illnesses, such as depression.

Be mindful of:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Social isolation
  • Poor concentration
  • Erratic behavior
  • Sleep issues
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Mild hallucinations

Data shows that up to 73 percent of people with schizophrenia will experience this phase before they develop the “characteristic” symptoms of schizophrenia, such as delusions and apathy [2].


The active phase is when you will exhibit characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia — mainly those that are psychosis-based, such as delusions, hallucinations and paranoia. These symptoms will be obvious, especially to those around you, and may include:

  • Laughing to yourself
  • Wandering
  • Mumbling and jumbled speech
  • Changes in movement
  • Confused thoughts
  • Lack of emotion
  • Delusions, which are false ideas that you will believe, even if you are presented with contrary evidence
  • Hallucinations, including smelling, hearing, seeing or feeling things that others do not


For diagnostic purposes, this phase is no longer recognized. However, it is still important to be aware of so that you can express your symptoms. You will experience fewer or less severe symptoms compared to the active phase, and “positive” symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions will subside.

You will experience mainly “negative” symptoms, such as low energy, low motivation, and depression.

Other symptoms include:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Social withdrawal
  • Monotone voice
  • Reduce facial expression
  • General disinterest

This phase is similar to the prodromal stage [3].

The causes of the above phases are likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Changes in brain structure and substance use may increase your risk of developing schizophrenia. For example, if you have a family history of schizophrenia, you’re six times more likely to develop this disorder [4]. Variables such as stress, poverty, trauma, addiction and exposure to viruses may also play a role in those who face a higher predisposition.

Learn more about mental health and addiction.

How to Seek Schizophrenia Treatment

Being aware of the symptoms above will allow you to discuss your concerns to receive a diagnosis.

Although you can develop schizophrenia at any age, symptoms typically appear between the late teens and early 20s for males and the late 20s to early 30s for females [4].

The best treatment for schizophrenia will depend on your needs and whether you’re dealing with a co-occurring condition. For example, up to 50 percent of patients with schizophrenia exhibit alcohol or illicit drug dependence [5].

Typically, patients are prescribed antipsychotic medications and urged to participate in psychotherapy, including CBT.

Summit Detox Can Help

The most important step within the recovery process is accepting your diagnosis and seeking the help you deserve.

Schizophrenia does not need to be a life sentence. There are treatment options that will allow you to live a quality life.

Whether you need mental health support or are struggling with addiction, Summit Detox is here for you.

Contact us to learn more about our programs.


  1. WHO. Schizophrenia. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/schizophrenia
  2. Medical News Today. What to know about the stages of schizophrenia. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/stages-of-schizophrenia
  3. Conroy, S., Francis, M, and Hulvershorn, L. Identifying and treating the prodromal phases of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196741/
  4. NAMI. Schizophrenia. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia
  5. Winklbaur, B. Substance abuse in patients with schizophrenia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181760/

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