Schizophrenia is a serious condition that causes changes in thoughts, emotions and behavior. Children with this condition may:
This disorder usually causes serious problems in day-to-day living.
This is almost always a lifelong disorder. With medicine and good social support, however, most people with schizophrenia can lead productive lives. Often the symptoms decrease in middle age.
The exact cause of this disorder is not known.
It is very rare for this disorder to start before age 12. It usually starts slowly, usually after the age of 19. Girls and young women often develop symptoms a few years later than boys and young men. Symptoms usually increase over 3 to 5 years. Sometimes schizophrenia starts suddenly over a few weeks.
No single symptom defines this illness. Symptoms may include:
Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms. Other diseases can cause many of the symptoms. The provider will make sure that a medical problem or drugs such as LSD, amphetamines, or cocaine, are not causing the symptoms. Your child may have brain scans such as CT or MRI, or blood tests to help rule out other disorders that have similar symptoms.
A mental health professional should make the final diagnosis. The diagnosis is made based on a thorough psychiatric interview of the child and family members.
Medicines are the most important part of the treatment. Unfortunately, many of the medicines have not been researched with preteen children and have only limited research with teenagers. The medicines will usually need to be taken long-term to keep symptoms from coming back.
It is very important for your child to take the medicine even when he is feeling and thinking well. Without the medicine, your child is very likely to have a relapse.
Schizophrenia changes the way your child relates to others. It also changes the way your child thinks. There are several kinds of therapy that can help a person with schizophrenia.
Supportive therapy can help your child learn about schizophrenia, and get advice about how to manage daily challenges.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on thinking and behavior. The therapist helps your child learn how to:
Group therapy can help your child deal with school, relationships, and drug therapy and side effects.
Family therapy can help your family learn about schizophrenia and how to help your child.
Stay in touch with teachers, babysitters, and other people who care for your child to share information about symptoms your child may be having.
If your child or teen acts aggressive or self-injures, get professional help immediately.
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