Schizophrenia is a profound mental disease that is separated into three distinct phases. The beginning phase, or Promodal stage, occurs within a year of the appearance of the disease, the acute phase marks the active phase of schizophrenia, and the residual stage is the final stage. There is no treatment for schizophrenia, so it is important to recognize the differing phases in order to properly understand the disorder.
The Prodromal Stage
In medical terms, a prodrome refers to the early symptoms and signs of an illness that come before the characteristic symptoms of an illness emerges. Signs of the promodal phase are not specific to schizophrenia and can often be mistaken as the development of another mental illness. This phase is impossible to identify until an individual reaches the acute phase.
In the Promodal stage, social isolation, avoiding family and friends, and deteriorating school or work performance is common, and help from family members is critical in identifying the initial phase of schizophrenia. Many behaviors exhibitied in the prodrome are considered to be normal and not necessarily indicative of first-stage schizophrenia.
The Acute Stage
When an individual with schizophrenia enters the acute stage, it is impossible to miss and is the point of full development of the disease. In this phase, the person experiences significant positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms. The person might appear to be psychotic, extremely disorganized and exhibit confused thought. Others might experience hallucinations and delusions, and behavior might be extreme enough to warrant a stay in a mental health facility to stabilize the disease.
Most patients require antipsychotic medication to alleviate the symptoms during the acute phase of schizophrenia. Without medication, the acute stage can last weeks, months or even indefinitely. Rarely does the active phase resolve itself without treatment. The acute phase differs from person to person. Some may enter into the acute phase only once, while others find themselves there repeatedly during the course of their lifetime. Positive symptoms are common in this stage.
The Residual Stage
The residual stage is the final stage of schizophrenia and shares similar characteristics with the promodal stage. The individual won’t appear to be psychotic but residual negative and cognitive symptoms may exist. This phase occurs when an individual with schizophrenia has stabilized and is on a consistent treatment plan for schizophrenia. Hallucinations and delusions disappear in this stage, although the person might continue to think and behave strangely.