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MMW Fortschr Med. 2000 Mar 9;142(10):26-9.

[Long prodromal phase in schizophrenia. By recognizing it, the prognosis of the patient can be significantly improved].

[Article in German]

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Zentralinstitut für Seelische Gesundheit, Arbeitsgruppe Schizophrenjeforschung, Mannheim.


Both Kraepelin and E. Bleuler reported that nonspecific symptoms are frequently present before the first psychotic symptoms manifest. In the ABC schizophrenia study, we were able to show that, in three-quarters of the cases, initial psychotic symptoms are preceded by a prodromal phase of several years standing that begins with non-specific signs such as negative and depressive symptoms. These early symptoms lead to social disabilities that--already before the onset of acute psychotic symptoms--have an adverse effect on the life situation of those who subsequently go on to develop schizophrenia. With the aim of preventing these early social consequences, patients at risk of developing schizophrenia should be identified in good time, and referred to early detection/intervention centers for a diagnostic work-up. In addition to the initial, non-specific symptoms that mark the beginning of the prodromal phase, basic disturbances also need to be considered, since they have considerable prognostic importance for the transition to psychosis. Other factors of importance are retarded development and behavioral anomalies in childhood and familial load, since premorbid risk factors are indicative of a congenital psychotic risk.

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