A new study finds that adults with schizophrenia who keep to themselves often did so as children, but that social skills training can be an effective way to overcome any difficulties presented by socialising with others.
If you’re feeling alone, you’re not alone. That’s one of the key messages that Institute-supported researcher Sandra Matheson (pictured) wants people to take from her meta-analysis of social withdrawal and schizophrenia that was published recently in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. The report, which compared six studies that looked at childhood social withdrawal in adults with schizophrenia and in at-risk children aged 9-14 years, found that childhood social withdrawal in combination with three potential markers of schizophrenia risk – delay in speech or motor development, presence of psychotic-like experiences, and social, emotional or behavioural problems – was an indicator of vulnerability for schizophrenia.
“That’s not to say that children who are shy, or don’t have a lot of friends or don’t play well are going to develop schizophrenia later in life,” Ms Matheson points out. “What the results of the study tell us is that adults with schizophrenia who are socially withdrawn, quite likely displayed those same attributes when they were children and that not wanting to socialise with others is a common occurrence in people with schizophrenia.”