Anyone can develop schizophrenia. But there seem to be some key differences between males and females.

Schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect anyone of any sex or gender.

Men and women are more or less equally prone to the disorder, but there may be a difference between the sexes when it comes to the development and experience of schizophrenia.

Language matters

Sex and gender exist on a spectrum. We use “men” and “women” in this article to reflect the terms assigned at birth. However, gender is solely about how you identify yourself, independent of your physical body.

Your doctor may be able to help you better understand your presentation of schizophrenia and how your specific circumstances will translate into diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment.

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Schizophrenia affects roughly 1 in 300 people worldwide, affecting slightly more men than women, at a rate of nearly a 1.4-to-1 ratio.

Most people develop schizophrenia in late adolescence and their twenties. But it tends to develop earlier in men than women, especially in Western countries.

2022 research shows that while men typically develop schizophrenia between the ages of 20-29, there are two peak periods for women.

Women are more likely to develop schizophrenia between the ages of 20-39, or after age 40, during the perimenopause period. In fact, women make up 66% to 87% of people who develop the condition between ages 40-50.

2015 research suggests that other notable differences between the sexes include:

  • Prevalent symptoms can be different for men and women.
  • Active episodes for women may be shorter than those in men.
  • Women tend to have better short-term outcomes than men.
  • Women show better functioning prior to developing symptoms, and better social adjustment.
  • Suicide is more common in women with schizophrenia.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR), all people, regardless of sex, must meet certain diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia.

To receive a diagnosis, you must have two or more of the following symptoms for the majority of one month. In addition, you must be experiencing at least one of the first three symptoms:

  • hallucinations
  • delusions
  • disorganized thinking
  • disorganized behaviors
  • negative symptoms, which show a loss of ability, such as reduced speech

However, schizophrenia affects every person differently, and men and women may experience different symptoms.

According to a 2017 research review, women have a higher rate of:

  • affective symptoms, including depression, impulsivity, and mood instability
  • sensory and auditory hallucinations, such as hearing voices
  • persecutory delusions, like believing you’ll be harmed by someone
  • thought broadcasting, such as believing others can hear your thoughts
  • thought insertion, such as thinking someone has implanted their thoughts into yours
  • delusional jealousy, such as believing your partner is being unfaithful
  • sexual misconduct and delusions, like thinking someone is infatuated with you

Men, on the other hand, tend to have more:

  • acts of aggression
  • comorbid substance use disorder
  • negative symptoms
  • loss of cognitive or social function

Getting early treatment and support for schizophrenia is key. Not only can it reduce the impact the condition has on your life, but it can also help reduce your chances of severe relapses.


Working with a counselor or therapist can be helpful when you have schizophrenia. They can help you process your experience and may suggest certain treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT helps you develop coping strategies for symptoms and other challenges of living with schizophrenia. Your therapist may also suggest additional therapies to help with cognitive functioning.


A combination of medication and therapy is the typical treatment for most people with schizophrenia. This usually includes antipsychotic medicines to help with symptoms like delusions or hallucinations.

Some people with schizophrenia stop taking their medication due to side effects or lack of awareness about their condition. But it’s important to continue taking your medication as prescribed to help reduce symptoms.

Consider talking with your doctor about changes in diet and exercise, or other medication, that may help with medication side effects.

Medication side effects may include:

  • muscle stiffness
  • short- or long-term movement problems
  • weight gain
  • diabetes

Social support

Connecting with others living with schizophrenia can be a huge comfort and support. You may work with a community mental health team (CMHT) who can connect you with resources, provide day-to-day support, and help you live successfully with your condition. They may recommend:

  • Peer support groups: to work with others on things like social skills
  • Family support: to help you manage daily challenges and provide encouragement and emotional support
  • Assertive community treatment: to help you with the challenges of daily life, such as sticking to your medication schedule

While schizophrenia can affect anyone of any sex or gender, there are some key differences between men and women.

The incidence of schizophrenia is slightly higher in men than women. Women tend to develop the condition later than men and may experience different symptoms. They also have better short-term outcomes and social adjustment, but higher rates of suicide, than men.

You can often treat schizophrenia with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. This typically includes antipsychotics and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Having family support and connecting with others who have schizophrenia are also key to managing your condition and living well.

If you’re considering acting on suicidal thoughts, please seek professional support immediately.

Calling or texting a crisis helpline will connect you with a trained counselor 24/7, any day of the year, completely free of charge: