Some people develop symptoms that could indicate future schizophrenia, but never actually develop it.  Other people with the same symptoms do. The better we get at telling who will and who won’t develop schizophrenia, the better we can treat it.

Anxiety, Addiction, Depression, and Depression Treatments reports on a study that exposed people with symptoms indicating possible future schizophrenia to a mix of six voices speaking simultaneously.  It was designed so that only four words were clearly audible in the noise.  When asked to describe any words they heard, most people reported words and phrases that were not spoken.  The interesting finding, though, was that 6% who reported phrases under three words developed schizophrenia within two years – but 80% who heard phrases of four or more words did.

This doesn’t tell us whether the under-three-words people will ever develop schizophrenia, but it suggests a time frame in which most of them won’t, and a time frame in which many of the four-words-or-more people will.

I hope this finding holds up!  An easy test that could help doctors know who best to medicate to help avert development of full-blown schizophrenia could mean a lot fewer people developing it.