What We Know About Schizophrenia Onset in Girls and Women

Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder that affects an individual’s thinking, emotions, and behavior. Multiple factors, including genetics, environment, and neurodevelopmental abnormalities, are known to contribute to the development of this disorder. Scholars and clinicians have done much research on the onset of this disorder in girls and women over the past decades. In this article, we discuss what we know about schizophrenia onset in girls and women.

Age of Onset

The age of onset of schizophrenia is an important aspect to consider when studying this disorder. It usually affects individuals during their late adolescence or early adulthood, within the age range of 16-30 years. However, studies show that girls tend to experience the onset of schizophrenia earlier than boys. Research indicates that the age of onset for females is typically between 20 and 29 years. This early onset of schizophrenia in girls is associated with poorer outcomes, and they may experience more severe symptoms compared to their male counterparts.

Gender Differences

Studies show that the symptoms experienced by females with schizophrenia vary from those of males. Females tend to experience more prominent depressive symptoms and anxiety, while males experience more paranoid symptoms. Pregnant women may also experience psychotic symptoms, which can help with an early diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Risk Factors

Multiple risk factors have been identified to predispose girls and women to schizophrenia. These factors include exposure to inflammation, stress, trauma, or social disadvantage. For instance, growing up in an urban environment has been linked to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, especially in young girls. A study conducted in the Netherlands found that girls who grew up in urban settings had a 2.5 times greater risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia. Other risk factors include family history, prenatal stress, lower socioeconomic status, and drug use.


Effective treatment is crucial for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. Girls and women with this disorder respond well to treatment, regardless of the severity of their symptoms. Gender-sensitive approaches to treatment have also shown promising results. Treatment options include antipsychotic medication, psychotherapy, and social support.


Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that requires early diagnosis and treatment. Girls tend to experience the onset of this disorder earlier than boys, which may impact the severity of symptoms and outcomes. Risk factors such as exposure to stress, trauma, or social disadvantage also predispose girls and women to developing schizophrenia. Identifying these risk factors and addressing them early is crucial to reducing the onset and severity of symptoms. With the appropriate treatment and support, girls and women with schizophrenia can lead fulfilling lives and manage their symptoms effectively.