I know you treat people like my young adult son, who has schizophrenia. None of the experts we consulted asked about his childhood behavior patterns. Is it possible to intervene early to curb severe mental illness later in life?

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Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D. - Brain and behavior research expert on schizophrenia

Indeed, we are now beginning to understand that people with neuropsychiatric diseases like schizophrenia that are diagnosed at a particular point in life actually can show behavioral signs much earlier. Though we have a long way to go, many studies are now seeking to define such signs, including in schizophrenia, which could serve as “biomarkers” to help us identify and intervene early in the course of these disorders. Of course it is important to carefully validate such possible markers in large populations; it would not be a good idea to intervene in people with a low probability of developing the disease, since any intervention would bring with it new risks and side effects. But even without knowledge of a safe and effective early intervention, simply understanding early biomarkers would also help us understand these mysterious diseases better, which would certainly help in creating better cures for people even diagnosed later in life.