Schizophrenia In Children: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Schizophrenia in children is a very severe disorder wherein the children understand reality in an anomalous and abnormal way. The child will have a host of problems with cognition, behavior and emotions. There could be hallucinations and delusions as well. Clinical manifestations may differ, but they always mirror a reduced capacity to function.

Childhood schizophrenia is similar to schizophrenia in adults; however, it occurs early in life and has an intense bearing on the child’s development. Schizophrenia calls for a lifelong treatment plan. Timely detection and prompt treatment significantly improves the child’s long-term outcome.

Causes And Symptoms Of Schizophrenia In Childhood

  • The precise cause for childhood schizophrenia is not known, however, it is thought that it develops in a similar manner as adult schizophrenia does.
  • Genetics as well as environment play a pivotal role in causing schizophrenia.
  • A possible disorder with the neurotransmitters could contribute to the condition. Imaging studies illustrate the differences in the structure of the brain of people having schizophrenia, but the actual implication of the changes is still ambiguous.

Childhood schizophrenia is characterized by:

  •  Late crawling and late walking.
  • Language delays.
  • There may be rocking or flapping of the arm.
  • A little bigger child will communicate their delusions and hallucinations.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Inability to carry out day to day tasks.
  • Poor social skill.

Treatment Options For Schizophrenia In Children

The pediatrician, psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse and the family members need to work together.

  • Schizophrenia needs lifelong treatment, even when the symptoms seem to fade away. Childhood schizophrenia treatment is managed by a child psychiatrist.
  •  Medications: Anti-psychotic drugs are administered. They deal with delusions, hallucinations, loss of drive and enthusiasm and a lack of emotion. Your doctor will try a combination of different medications and different dosages. He may also advise anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs. Frequent follow ups are a must.

All anti-psychotic drugs come with side effects and health risks. It is very essential to remember that children, especially very young ones, may not be able to comprehend and / or communicate the medication related problems.

Confer with your child’s doctor about the likely side effects and how you can deal with them. Be alert for problems in your child, and report side effects to your health care provider as soon as possible.

  • Individual therapy: Psychotherapy with a mental health provider helps cope with stress and everyday challenges brought on by schizophrenia. Psycho-therapy helps decrease the symptoms and helps the child make friends and succeed at school. When your child learns about schizophrenia, he understands his condition better, copes with the symptoms and adheres to the treatment regimen. Academic and social skill training: Training in academic and social skills is very vital. These children are known to have troubled relationships and school problems. Treatment regimes which encompass building skills in these areas help the child function at age-appropriate levels successfully.
  • Hospital: In rare cases, particularly during a crisis situation, when the symptoms get very severe, hospitalization becomes highly necessary. It will ensure your child’s safety as well as make sure that he is getting adequate sleep, nourishment and hygiene. A hospital setting may be the safest and most optimal way to get the symptoms under control rapidly.
  • Family therapy: This provides support and education to the families. Involved, supportive and caring family members who understand the problem are exceedingly helpful to the child.

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