Schizophrenia, Children, And How To Spot The Warning Signs

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Schizophrenia currently affects around 1 in a 100 adults. In most cases the first symptoms are experienced in early adulthood between the ages of 15 and 25 for men and slightly later for women. Schizophrenia can affect children younger than this but it is relatively rare. Only 1 in 40,000 children will develop Schizophrenia. There is an increased risk of developing Schizophrenia if there is a family history of the condition.

When the symptoms first appear, it can be hard to identify them in the early stages. This is because children naturally behave differently to adults and are likely to have greater difficulty expressing how they feel emotionally and explaining what is going on inside their minds.

What to look out for

The symptoms of Schizophrenia are divided into what are known as positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms are much more obvious than negative symptoms. The child may have delusions which are beliefs that are obviously untrue. For example, believing they can fly or that they are someone famous or that they are receiving personal messages from people on the television.

They may have hallucinations and see people and things that aren’t there or hear voices telling them what to do or being critical of them. They may be unable to organise their thoughts or express themselves properly.

Negative symptoms are more difficult to identify as they may begin gradually and be mistaken for other problems. For example, your child might lose interest in all the activities they used to enjoy. They may show no concern for personal hygiene. Perhaps they are unable to concentrate at school or on their homework. The child might become withdrawn and sit staring into space for hours on end seemingly unwilling to talk or communicate with the rest of the family.

It’s important to note that children naturally have more active imaginations and therefore the presence of some apparently wild ideas doesn’t necessarily mean they have Schizophrenia. What may be perfectly normal at a younger age may be seen as not normal in an older child. There may be an overlap of symptoms with other conditions, autism for example. Only a trained psychiatrist will be able to take a child’s development into account and assess all the symptoms in relation to each other, and finally decide if a child is suffering from Schizophrenia or not.

Early diagnosis is essential for the best outlook so if you suspect your child might be showing symptoms of Schizophrenia you should speak to your doctor in the first instance as he or she will be able to refer you to a psychiatrist if necessary or advise you on the most appropriate course of action.

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2 Comments

  1. Garin
    Posted October 5, 2011 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    i just woke up from having a bad dream , at quarter past 6.
    it was a really weird dream and it was about a murderer coming to get me and my mum ,
    i am lying in bed now and i cannot for the life of me get this person with a mask and knife out my head and its really scaring me because i feel like its hear somewhere although its not! just feel like I’m having some sort of panic attack.
    i thought of coming and looking why , and i really would like to know if you think i should see someone. because its really not nice,
    also im realy scared after reading this i’l hallucinate and see this weird guy ! lol I’m serious !
    is it just me paranoid or do i need to see someone?

  2. Mark Tully
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    Hi I have trailed through hundreds of websites about mental illness and wondered why i can spot the signs of paranoid schizophrenia and yet a trained :schrink: couldn,t .My brother was under these trained people for years and yet No proper help has seems to have been given.Just a day before christmas last year 2011 my brother was taken into care again fearing that people were out to get him and that the voices from the T V, radio and general surroundings would not shut up.He was taken into care by a family member who is trained mental illness nurse and told the people who were to take care of him that he was a high risk patient and that he should be on close watch,after taking the room apart of all electrical items including the TV my brother hung himself………we his family thought he would be safe

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