How Long Can a Schizophrenic Episode Last?

Medically Reviewed on 3/30/2022
How Long Can a Schizophrenic Episode Last?
A schizophrenia episode might last days, weeks, or even months.

A schizophrenia episode might last days, weeks, or even months (in exceptional situations). Some people have only one or two schizophrenia episodes throughout their lifetime, whereas others have multiple episodes that come and go.

The length of a psychotic episode is determined by the nature and cause of the episode. The length of psychosis caused by a mental health issue, for example, differs from drug-induced psychosis (caused by substance abuse).

In schizophrenia, the duration is defined by symptoms or causes that last for six months. Additionally, two or more symptoms must be substantial and remain for at least one month, such as hallucinations, delusions, incoherent speech, and extremely disorganized or catatonic conduct.

What are the 3 stages of a schizophrenic episode?

A schizophrenic episode or psychosis may have three stages:

  1. Prodrome phase: The patient shows signs of delusion or distorted perception. This indicates that psychosis may occur soon.
  2. Acute phase: The periods of hallucinations, delusion, and other mental conditions sets in. In this stage, the disorder begins to affect regular life activities.
  3. Recovery phase: The patient will be able to recover from the condition and slowly revert to normalcy.

How common is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia affects about 24 million individuals globally. This amounts to 0.32 percent of the population, and in adults, it is 1 in 222 participants (0.45 percent). It is less prevalent than many other mental illnesses.

The most common times for onset are late adolescence and early adulthood, with men experiencing onset sooner than women. Schizophrenia causes distress and impairment in important areas of life, such as personal, social, educational, and occupational.

Human rights abuse is common among people with schizophrenia, both in mental health facilities and in the community. People with this ailment face a lot of stigmas, which leads to social exclusion. This affects their social and emotional health due to discrimination, thus limiting access to general health care, education, housing, and work.

What is the role of psychosis in schizophrenia?

People who suffer from schizophrenia experience psychosis.

  • Psychosis is a medical term where the patient interprets the world around them in a different way than other individuals. This could include how they feel, think, and see things.
  • Even though the schizophrenic episode is not a recognized diagnosis, it is a widely used word. During the phase where the symptoms are extreme, it is called a psychotic episode or acute schizophrenia.
  • The person may lose touch with reality, and the world may appear to be a puzzling mixture of images, sounds, and information depending on the severity of the schizophrenia episode.


What's Schizophrenia? Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment See Slideshow

What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder. People with schizophrenia may suddenly lose touch with reality, causing tremendous misery to the person, their family, and friends. 

Symptoms of schizophrenia include:

The symptoms of schizophrenia can be severe and life-threatening if left untreated. However, when effective remedies are available for the patient, the symptoms can be considerably improved with therapy and the risk of recurrence can be reduced.

Misconceptions about schizophrenia

The disease's complex nature may explain why there are so many myths about it.

  • The most common misconception is schizophrenia implies multiple personalities or split personalities. 
  • Most of the population with schizophrenia is no more dangerous or violent than the public. 
  • Another common myth is that people diagnosed with schizophrenia are homeless. Many schizophrenic patients live with their families or groups and undergo hospitalization.

What causes schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia's potential etiology remains unknown. According to research, a person's risk of developing the illness is increased by a mix of biological, genetic, behavioral, and environmental variables.

A traumatic or deeply emotional life experience may cause a psychotic episode in some individuals who are predisposed to schizophrenia. However, why some people exhibit clear symptoms and others do not is unidentified.

What are the risk factors for schizophrenia?

The risk factors for schizophrenia may include:

  • Schizophrenia can run in families in some cases. According to genetic studies, many different genes enhance the likelihood of developing schizophrenia, but no single gene causes the condition. However, it is necessary to understand that the disease running in the family is not the sole cause for any other member to develop it.
  • Environmental factors play a key role too. Interactions between genetic risk and features of an individual's environment may have a role in the development of schizophrenia according to scientists. These factors may be the surrounding a person grew up in, financial condition, nutrition, etc.
  • Alterations in the structure of the brain, function, and exchanges among chemical messengers (called neurotransmitters) are thought to have a role in the development of schizophrenia. This could be the difference in various neurotransmitters, brain development, functioning of two regions in the brain, etc.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/30/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Frankenburg FR. Schizophrenia. Medscape.

National Institutes of Health. Schizophrenia.