Do Men Develop Schizophrenia Earlier Than Women?

According to a new study led by S.V. Eranti of the Newham Early Intervention Service in London, males develop the first symptoms of schizo-affective illnesses and schizophrenia approximately a year and half before females do. This evidence clears up some conflicting research that had suggested there was a significant difference in age of onset for males and females. Eranti considered several factors in this study, including gender, age of first symptom, age of first consultation, age of first admission, and culture. Using 46 separate studies, Eranti analyzed data from over 29,000 males and 19,000 females and found that males were admitted to the hospital for schizophrenia approximately 1.07 years earlier than females. All factors combined to increase the age of onset difference to that of almost 18 months. When the DSM criteria were used, the difference in admission age was significant. But when the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) measures were used, there was no difference in age of admission.

Eranti also looked at developed countries compared to developing countries and found virtually no differences in age of first symptoms, first consultation, or first admission. Another interesting finding was that males had their first symptoms of schizophrenia 1.63 years earlier than females, but had their first consultation just over a year earlier than the females. This suggests that males may have untreated symptoms of psychosis and schizophrenia for longer periods than females. Although this did not fully explain the gender differences on all measures, it is one area that should be examined more closely in future work.

Another factor to consider is the subjectivity of symptoms. Hallucinations and delusions may not be noticed by caregivers and parents until they have been present for some time. Additionally, it is believed that many females have a second spike in symptom severity later in life, which could explain the difference in onset age in early life. These are issues that should be focused on in future research as well. Other risk factors to consider would be family history, comorbidity, and complications that occurred during pregnancy. Eranti added, “There is a need for large studies from developing countries to examine the gender difference in age at onset and factors influencing it.”

Reference:
Eranti, S. V., et al. Gender difference in age at onset of schizophrenia: A meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine 43.1 (2013): 155-67. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.

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  • Olive

    February 9th, 2013 at 4:25 AM

    I have always thought this! And I have always thought that more men are at risk for developing schizophrenia than women are. Do you know if there is any evidence that backs that up?

  • Hans

    February 9th, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    It appears that there are still many discrepancies in the field of mental health and receiving a diagnosis that have yet to be addressed and dealt with. How does one set of resources say one thing and yet another, that is just as widely accepted, come to another yet different conclusion? This makes no sense. Why is there no real effort to piece it all together? It makes me feel that we could all have a greater understanding of the issues if we could come to a more professional consensus.

  • tyler

    February 10th, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    men generally have a lower life expectancy than women.so I think this should come as no surprise.lower life expectancy->early occurrence of things biologically->early onset of symptoms, maybe?

    and they would also need to keep this in mind when dealing with and treating people with schizophrenia.individual condition is one thing but gender differences also need to be accounted for when diagnosing and treating.

  • Carla

    February 11th, 2013 at 3:49 AM

    I suppose that it makes snse that the disease could manifest itsef differently in men than it does in women. But the curious thing is that typically men receive treatment for things far later than women do. So maybe this is true, that the symptoms of schizophrenia do come on earlier for men than for women

  • norris

    February 11th, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    bad news for men if this is indeed true.but really they should use this as a pointer and begin to look for signs in men at a much earlier stage of diagnosis.the late diagnosis that happens in men as a result of not paying heed to this point can make a major difference down the line.

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