Why Men Develop Schizophrenia Earlier Than Women

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that can lead to a lifetime of disability if not managed properly with medication. While it is prevalent in both men and women, schizophrenia has an earlier onset in men.

The age of onset in men and women

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact onset of schizophrenia because people may have cognition problems or trouble in social relationships long before they are officially diagnosed. In general, schizophrenia is diagnosed in late adolescence through the early 30s.

Men are usually diagnosed between the late teens and early 20s, with a peak at 21-25 years of age. Women are diagnosed a few years later, at 25-30 or again after menopause.

The ages are just a guide. No matter when you notice any of the signs or symptoms of schizophrenia in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Symptoms include confusion, disorganized speech, and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things).

At Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Hadi Estakhri helps his patients live better quality lives through symptom management.

Why do men develop schizophrenia before women?

This is not an easy question to answer. Scientific researchers have come up with a few possibilities, though nothing has been proven as the main reason why men develop schizophrenia earlier than women do. Research, though, is showing a connection between DNA modifications and early brain development.  

Other research suggests a link between estrogen, a female sex hormone, and schizophrenia. Some women are first diagnosed with schizophrenia after menopause, the same time their estrogen levels drop. Estrogen also seems to have a protective effect, shielding women from the severity of this illness.

Researchers are conducting randomized clinical trials to study how well estrogen works in conjunction with antipsychotic medication in both men and women with schizophrenia.

Other concerns for men with schizophrenia

Men with schizophrenia may tend to have lower social functioning and other conditions like substance abuse that complicate their treatment plan and recovery. Dr. Estakhri specializes in both general and addiction psychiatry, so if you have schizophrenia but are also dealing with drug or alcohol abuse, you get the most comprehensive treatment at Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health right here in Orange County, California.

Schizophrenia can be debilitating. Let us help you manage your symptoms and live a better quality of life. Contact us to make an appointment with Dr. Estakhri today.

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