Childhood Schizophrenia

What is Childhood Schizophrenia

Childhood schizophrenia is schizophrenia seen in children younger than 13 years of age. The condition is similar to adults with difference of early onset and severity. As in adults, child may have complaints of thinking, emotions and behavior with symptoms of delusions and hallucination. It can have effect on child’s adjustment and development.

Symptoms

Early childhood signs and symptoms:

  • Delay in language development
  • Slow or late milestones
  • Abnormal motor behaviors rocking or arm flapping

Schizophrenia symptoms in teenagers:

  • Irritability or apathy
  • Social isolation
  • Falling performance in school
  • Sleep disorder
  • Strange behavior
  • Aggression
  • Delusions and hallucinations

Later signs and symptoms

  • Delusions – False beliefs like being harmed, exceptional ability, another person in love with, body abnormalities some major problem about to occur.
  • Disorganized behavior – Resistance to instruction to goalless bizarre motion and behavior.
  • Disorganized thinking and speech – Communication is impaired or unrelated
  • Hallucinations – Visual and auditory hallucinations are more common
  • Negative symptoms – Apathy, lack of expression, lack of function, neglect of personal hygiene and loss of interest in everyday life. 

Causes

It seems to be same as adult schizophrenia. Genetics and environment both may play a role in causing schizophrenia. There could be altered brain structure and neurotransmitters. New research suggest role of brain inflammation.

Risk factors

  • Family history of schizophrenia
  • Pregnancy complications like exposure to viruses, toxins or malnutrition
  • Immunological disorders
  • Older age of the father
  • Drug abuse

Complications

  • Social withdrawal
  • Poor performance
  • Self injury or suicide
  • Substance abuse
  • Family conflicts
  • Face harassment or abuse

Tests and diagnosis

  • History and clinical assessment
  • Personal history including history of substance abuse
  • Family history
  • Medical and psychiatric history
  • Investigations to rule out medical causes
  • EEG, CT and MRI

Treatments

  • Medications
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Social Rehabilitation
  • Academic skills training
  • Lifestyle and Holistic Management
  • Hospitalization if required
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