when i went to college i learned that it is very difficult to diagnose SZ it is often misdiagnosed it is difficult to know how it starts one day i started hearing voices and had delusions about thinking that others knew what i was thinking wierd anyway i have it now :)
I think this is a hard question to answer because everyone is different. I think it can last as long as it does without a specific time limit and it can be hard to tell when the first onset symptoms happen to when they are diagnosable as schizophrenia.
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