Individuals Experiencing a First Episode of Schizophrenia

We are conducting the first episode of schizophrenia part of the study to learn about changes over time in clinical symptoms, thinking and problem solving abilities, hormones, electrical activity in the brain (a specialized EEG), and MRI imaging studies. Approximately 168 people (104 in the first episode of psychosis and 64 healthy volunteers) will participate in this part of the study.

This is not a treatment study but a study to understand experiences and functioning at this point in time and any changes that may take place in the next year. Accurate identification and understanding of the first episode of schizophrenia will provide an important foundation for future research in prevention and early treatment of serious mental illness. Early detection and intervention will likely lead to significantly better clinical outcomes and promote healthy functioning for individuals and their families.

The first episode of schizophrenia is a time when people develop a psychotic episode, which may include psychiatric symptoms such as hallucinations and false beliefs (delusions), difficulty concentrating, and withdrawal from friends or changes in your usual feelings about people. Changes in mood, in particular anxiety and depression, may occur. There may be difficulty with usual daily activities such as school, work, and hygiene. Evaluation by a trained professional is necessary to decide if this is an episode of schizophrenia or another type of psychotic disorder. This research project will provide this type of diagnostic assessment.

Two sets of assessments will be conducted: one set at the beginning of the study and a second set, 1 year later. Each assessment period will take approximately 5 visits. Participation entails clinical interviews, filling out questionnaires, providing hormonal and genetic samples, a specialized EEG, and MRI scans. Parents, if available, also participate in clinical interviews.

Individuals who are experiencing a first episode of psychosis are invited to consider participation in the study. We are particularly looking to recruit individuals who are early in their first episode of schizophrenia. Referrals to the study can be made by family physicians, pediatricians, psychiatrists, mental health professionals, family members or individuals themselves.