What is the age of onset for schizophreniform disorder?

Samir Kadri
Author: Samir Kadri Medical Reviewer: Dr. Jenni Jacobsen, PhD Last updated:

Schizophreniform disorder is a short-term psychotic disorder that impacts the way you express emotions, interact with other people, and perceive reality.

People with schizophreniform disorder exhibit symptoms for between one and six months. If symptoms persist for longer than six months, you are typically diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Patients with schizophrenia may develop symptoms over a protracted period, whereas those with schizophreniform disorder experience symptoms quickly. [1]

What is the age of onset for schizophreniform disorder?

The most common ages of onset for men are between 18 and 24, whereas women are most likely to develop symptoms between 18 and 35. [1]

However, it is important to note that the age of onset can vary, and cases of schizophreniform disorder can occur in individuals as young as early adolescence or as late as middle age.

The severity of symptoms experienced does not vary from sex to sex. Roughly two thirds of people with schizophreniform disorder will go on to meet the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia[2]

Does late onset schizophreniform disorder exist?

Schizophreniform disorder is typically associated with an onset in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, the term “late onset schizophreniform disorder” is not commonly used or recognized in clinical practice.

That said, it’s important to note that late-onset schizophrenia has been proposed as a subtype of schizophrenia. Late-onset schizophrenia refers to the development of symptoms of schizophrenia between the ages of 40 and 60. [3]

Late-onset schizophrenia has not been formally recognized as a subtype of schizophrenia by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM)-5. This is because it is not clear whether it is the same condition as schizophrenia diagnosed before mid-life. [3]

Differences between late-onset schizophrenia and earlier-onset schizophrenia include: [3]

  • Gender distribution – women make up a significantly larger proportion of schizophrenic cases diagnosed after the age of 40.
  • Lower average severity of symptoms
  • Lower dosage of antipsychotic required.

Does your age affect your treatment plan?

Age can influence the treatment approach for schizophreniform disorder to some extent. Here are a few factors to consider:

  1. Pharmacological treatment: The choice and dosage of antipsychotic medications may be influenced by age-related factors such as the individual’s metabolism, comorbid medical conditions, and potential interactions with other medications they may be taking. Older individuals may be more susceptible to certain side effects of antipsychotics, such as movement disorders, so careful monitoring is important.
  2. Psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions: The content and focus of psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions may be tailored based on the individual’s age and life circumstances. For example, younger individuals may benefit from interventions that address education, vocational training, and social support, while older individuals may require interventions that address issues related to aging, housing, and community resources.
  3. Family involvement: Involving family members in the treatment process can be beneficial regardless of age, but it may be particularly important in the case of younger individuals who may still be dependent on their families for support and care.
  4. Co-occurring conditions: Age-related medical conditions or psychiatric comorbidities may influence the treatment approach. For instance, older individuals may have a higher likelihood of having comorbid medical conditions, and treatment plans may need to consider potential interactions between medications for physical and mental health conditions.

It’s worth noting that treatment decisions should be made on an individual basis, taking into account the unique needs and circumstances of the person with schizophreniform disorder. Irrespective of the age of the individual in question, consulting a qualified mental health professional is crucial in developing an appropriate treatment plan.

  1. Bhalla, R. N., MD. (n.d.). Schizophreniform Disorder: Practice Essentials, Background, Pathophysiology. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2008351-overview
  2. Sautter, F., McDermott,B., & Garver, D. (1993). The course of DSM-111-R schizophreniform disorder J Clin Psychol, 49(3), 339-344.
  3. Maglione JE, Thomas SE, Jeste DV. Late-onset schizophrenia: do recent studies support categorizing LOS as a subtype of schizophrenia? Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2014 May;27(3):173-8. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000049. PMID: 24613985; PMCID: PMC4418466.
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Samir Kadri
Author Samir Kadri Writer

Samir Kadri is a medical writer with a non-profit sector background, committed to raising awareness about mental health.

Published: Jul 28th 2023, Last edited: Jan 31st 2024

Dr. Jenni Jacobsen, PhD
Medical Reviewer Dr. Jenni Jacobsen, PhD LSW, MSW

Dr. Jenni Jacobsen, PhD is a medical reviewer, licensed social worker, and behavioral health consultant, holding a PhD in clinical psychology.

Content reviewed by a medical professional. Last reviewed: Jul 27th 2023