How Adolescent Schizophrenia Develops

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Schizophrenia affects males and females equally; however, it tends to develop earlier in males, usually between the ages of 15 and 25. Schizophrenia can be devastating, especially when it develops at such a young age and it can put a tremendous amount of pressure on family members.  It is important to know what to look for and to seek help as soon as possible if your child is showing signs of Schizophrenia.

Changes in your child’s behaviour may happen slowly over a long period of time so that there is a growing awareness of something wrong, or, symptoms can develop suddenly over a few days or weeks.

The first signs could be a gradual withdrawal from social activities and friends, becoming more shy and talking less, spending a great deal of time alone, appearing fearful or anxious or moody. On the other hand the first signs may involve the youngster expressing bizarre ideas and behaviours.

There is such a wide variation in symptoms and no clear pattern however there are some early warning signs that you can look out for and these include the following:

  • Social withdrawal and a reluctance to take part in social activities, difficulty making friends or unwilling to make friends, social isolation, spending a lot of time alone
  • Bizarre behaviour and thoughts
  • Strange ideas or beliefs that are not based on reality (delusions)
  • Hearing voices or seeing things that are not really there (hallucinations)
  • Lack of emotion and emotional expression
  • Inappropriate social responses such as laughing when hearing bad news
  • Becoming increasingly agitated and anxious
  • Staring into space or sitting in the same position for long periods of time
  • Cannot function effectively at school and difficulty carrying out homework or other tasks
  • Paranoia and feelings of persecution or that someone or something is out to do them harm, suspicious of other people and their intentions
  • Distorted perception of reality
  • Difficulty organising thoughts, confused thinking
  • Aggressive outbursts

The problem with diagnosis is that these symptoms are also present in other conditions and can also occur as a result of substance abuse. It’s absolutely vital to seek help as early as possible for two main reasons.

The first is to obtain an accurate diagnosis so that the right treatment and help can be given, particularly as there is a high suicide risk in people with Schizophrenia. The second is that research has shown that the longer treatment is delayed when the symptoms of Schizophrenia first develop, the poorer the outlook. If you are worried, speak to your doctor.

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