Schizophrenia in children

Schizophrenia in children

Schizophrenia is an extremely serious chronic mental illness that affects the child both in thinking and behavior. Although it has a rather rare incidence among children, it can also occur at an early age, although its onset is more common in adolescence to adulthood. The symptoms and signs of schizophrenia differ slightly from those of adults, so it is important to know how to recognize this disease.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is an extremely serious chronic mental illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. The schizophrenic patient differs in weight between the real and the imaginary and imagines all kinds of things.

Incidence of schizophrenia in children

Schizophrenia is a rare disease among children, but not impossible. The biggest problem is that the disease is difficult to detect at very young ages. The symptoms of children and adolescents with schizophrenia are different from those of adults, which is why it is harder to diagnose.

In children under 13, the incidence is very small, only 1 in 40,000 children presenting the disease at such an early age. It begins to grow into adolescence, with the highest rate of disease onset occurring at the age of 15.

What are the causes of schizophrenia in children?

Most scientific evidence shows that schizophrenia is rooted in a child's neurodevelopment. It is the result of brain development disorders occurring at very young ages. This means that certain areas of the brain are affected by schizophrenia. Neurological damage appears to be greater in children with schizophrenia than in adults.

Risk factors for schizophrenia

  • genetic factors;

  • exposure of the fetus to certain viruses in pregnancy;

  • malnutrition in intrauterine life;

  • exposure to a stressful environment.

What are the signs or symptoms of schizophrenia?

  • difficulty in discerning between dreams and reality;

  • hearing noises and voices that are not real;

  • confused thinking;

  • rich and strange imagination;

  • irrational or delayed behavior towards his age;

  • excessive physical mobility or immobility;

  • reduced communication with other people;

  • the illusion that someone always comes after him and follows him etc .;

  • problems in making friends and bonding long-term friends with other children.

Other signs of schizophrenia in children

  • insulation;

  • low school performance;

  • common problems at school;

  • language and speech delays;

  • other delays in development.

How is the diagnosis made?

Children who show signs of schizophrenia need a thorough evaluation before making the diagnosis. You can introduce yourself first to your family doctor, and he can refer you to a specialist in such problems. The doctor will:

  • evaluate the complete medical history of the child;

  • will interrogate the family regarding the school performance, his daily social behavior and other particularities related to him;

  • make an assessment to eliminate other mental disorders that would have a similar symptomatology;

  • will perform blood tests;

  • will also use brain imaging to eliminate other medical conditions.

How is schizophrenia treated?

Schizophrenia is a chronic condition and cannot be completely cured, but the sooner it is detected the better the quality of life of the child. These children need a combination of:

  • drugs;

  • psychotherapy - individual therapy;

  • group therapy (family);

  • special education programs at school and in other activities.

Psychiatric medication can be helpful in alleviating many of the symptoms. Antipsychotic drugs seem to be helpful to children who have not responded to a classic drug treatment. In a few cases, however, the symptoms disappear completely. The only antipsychotic drugs approved in children are risperidone and aripiprazole, and they can only be used from 13 years and up.

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