Schizophrenia / Psychosis Early Warning Signs

This list of warning signs was developed by people whose relatives have schizophrenia or other serious mental illness. Many behaviours are within the range of normal responses to situations. Yet family members sense—even when symptoms are mild—that behaviour is “unusual”; that the person is “not the same”. Click on these links for more information on psychosis and schizophrenia

The number and severity of these symptoms differ from person to person—although almost everyone mentions noticeable social withdrawal.

  • Deterioration of personal hygiene
  • Depression
  • Bizarre behaviour
  • Irrational statements
  • Sleeping excessively or inability to sleep
  • Social withdrawal, isolation, and reclusiveness
  • Shift in basic personality
  • Unexpected hostility
  • Deterioration of social relationships
  • Hyperactivity or inactivity—or alternating between the two
  • Inability to concentrate or to cope with minor problems
  • Extreme preoccupation with religion or with the occult
  • Excessive writing without meaning
  • Indifference
  • Dropping out of activities—or out of life in general
  • Decline in academic or athletic interests
  • Forgetting things
  • Losing possessions
  • Extreme reactions to criticism
  • Inability to express joy
  • Inability to cry, or excessive crying
  • Inappropriate laughter
  • Unusual sensitivity to stimuli (noise, light, colours, textures)
  • Attempts to escape through frequent moves or hitchhiking trips
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Fainting
  • Strange posturing
  • Refusal to touch persons or objects; wearing gloves, etc.
  • Shaving head or body hair
  • Cutting oneself; threats of self-mutilation
  • Staring without blinking—or blinking incessantly
  • Flat, reptile-like gaze
  • Rigid stubbornness
  • Peculiar use of words or odd language structures
  • Sensitivity and irritability when touched by others.

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