Childhood Schizophrenia – What is it, Causes and Treatments!

Childhood Schizophrenia – What it is, Causes and  Drug Treatments. Furthermore, Childhood Schizophrenia  is an uncommon but serious mental disorder in which children interpret reality abnormally. Childhood Schizophrenia  involves a number of problems with thinking (cognitive), behavior or emotions.

It can result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thoughts and behaviors that impair your child’s ability to function. Childhood Schizophrenia is essentially the same as adult schizophrenia, but it occurs early in life and has a profound impact on a child’s behavior and development.

With Childhood Schizophrenia  , the early age of onset presents special challenges for diagnosis, treatment, education, and emotional and social development. Childhood Schizophrenia  is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment. Identifying and starting treatment for Childhood Schizophrenia  as early as possible can significantly improve a child’s long-term outcome.

Causes of Childhood Schizophrenia:  It is not known what causes Childhood Schizophrenia , but it is thought that it develops in the same way as adult schizophrenia. The researchers believe that a combination of genetics, brain chemistry and environment contributes to the development of the disorder. It is unclear why Childhood Schizophrenia  starts so early in life for some and not for others.

Problems with certain naturally occurring brain chemicals, including neurotransmitters called dopamine and glutamate, can contribute to Childhood Schizophrenia  . Neuroimaging studies show differences in the brain structure and central nervous system of people with Childhood Schizophrenia . Although the researchers aren’t sure what these changes mean, they do indicate that schizophrenia is a brain disease.

Symptoms of Childhood Schizophrenia: Childhood  Schizophrenia involves  a number of problems with thinking, behavior or emotions. Signs and symptoms can vary, but they usually involve delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech and reflect an impaired ability to function. The effect can be disabling.

Symptoms of Childhood Schizophrenia  usually begin in the mid to late 20’s. It is uncommon for children to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. Early schizophrenia occurs before age 18. Early-onset schizophrenia in children younger than age 13 is extremely rare.

Symptoms can vary in type and severity over time, with periods of worsening and remission of symptoms. Some symptoms may always be present. Schizophrenia can be difficult to recognize in the early stages.

Early Signs and Symptoms:  Early indications of  Childhood Schizophrenia may include developmental problems such as:

  • language delays
  • Late or unusual crawling
  • late walk
  • Other abnormal motor behaviors – for example, rocking or arming

Some of these signs and symptoms are also common in children with pervasive developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder. Therefore, ruling out these developmental disorders is one of the first steps in diagnosis.

Symptoms in Adolescents:  The symptoms of  Childhood Schizophrenia  in teenagers are similar to those in adults, but the condition can be more difficult to recognize in this age group. This may be in part because some of the early symptoms of schizophrenia in teenagers are common for typical development during adolescence, such as:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • A drop in performance at school
  • trouble sleeping
  • Irritability or depressed mood
  • lack of motivation
  • Strange behavior
  • substance use

Compared to symptoms of schizophrenia in adults, teenagers may be:

  • Less likely to have delusions
  • More likely to have visual hallucinations

Later Symptoms:  As children age of Infantile Schizophrenia  , more typical signs and symptoms of the disease begin to appear. Signs and symptoms can include:

  • delusions. These are false beliefs that are not based in reality. For example, you feel that you are being harmed or harassed; That certain gestures or comments are directed at you; That you have exceptional skill or fame; That someone else is in love with you; Or that a great catastrophe is about to occur. Delusions occur in most people with Childhood Schizophrenia  .
  • hallucinations. These often involve seeing or hearing things that are not there. However, for the person with Infantile Schizophrenia  , hallucinations have all the force and impact of a normal experience. Hallucinations can be in all directions, but hearing voices is the most common hallucination.
  • Disorganized thinking. Disorganized thinking is inferred from disorganized speech. Effective communication can be hampered and responses to questions may be partially or completely unrelated. Rarely, speech can include creating nonsense words that cannot be understood, sometimes known as word salad.
  • Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior. This can show itself in a variety of ways, from childish seduction to unpredictable agitation. The behavior is not focused on a goal, which makes the task difficult. The behavior may include resistance to instructions, awkward or bizarre posture, lack of complete response, or useless and excessive movements.
  • Negative symptoms . This refers to the reduction or lack of ability to function normally. For example, the person may neglect personal hygiene or appear to lack emotion – not making eye contact, not changing facial expressions, speaking in a monotone, or not adding hand or head movements that normally occur when speaking. In addition, the person may have a reduced ability to engage in activities, such as a loss of interest in everyday activities, social withdrawal, or a lack of ability to experience pleasure.

Symptoms Can Be Difficult to Interpret:  When Childhood Schizophrenia begins early in life, symptoms can gradually build up. Early signs and symptoms may be so vague that you may not recognize what is wrong, or you may attribute them to a developmental stage.

Over time, symptoms can become more severe and more noticeable. Eventually, your child may develop symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations, delusions, and difficulty organizing thoughts. As thoughts become more disorganized, a “reality break” (psychosis) often requires hospitalization and medication treatment.

When to See a Doctor:  It can be difficult to know how to deal with vague behavioral changes in your child. You may be afraid of jumping to conclusions that label your child with a mental illness. Your child’s teacher or other school personnel can alert you to changes in your child’s behavior. Seek medical advice if your child:

  • Has developmental delays compared to other siblings or peers
  • Stopped meeting daily expectations, such as bathing or dressing
  • no longer want to socialize
  • Is slipping in academic performance
  • Have weird eating rituals
  • Shows excessive suspicion of others
  • Shows a lack of emotion or shows emotions inappropriate for the situation
  • Has strange ideas and fears
  • Confuses dreams or television for reality
  • Has strange ideas, behavior, or speech
  • Has violent or aggressive behavior or agitation

These general signs and symptoms do not necessarily mean that your child has Childhood Schizophrenia . These could indicate a phase, another mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety disorder, or a medical condition. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you have questions about your child’s behavior or development.

Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior:  Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are common among people with Childhood Schizophrenia  . If you have a child or teen who is in danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with him or her. Call the local emergency number immediately. Or if you think you can do it safely, take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Risk Factors for  Childhood Schizophrenia:  While the precise cause of Childhood Schizophrenia  is not known, certain factors appear to increase the risk of developing or triggering Childhood Schizophrenia  , including:

  • Having a family history of schizophrenia
  • Increased activation of the immune system, such as inflammation or autoimmune diseases
  • Father’s oldest age
  • Some complications of pregnancy and birth, such as malnutrition or exposure to toxins or viruses that can affect brain development
  • Taking mind-altering drugs (psychoactive or psychoactive) during the teen years

Complications of Childhood Schizophrenia:  Without treatment, Childhood Schizophrenia  can result in serious emotional, behavioral and health problems. Complications associated with Childhood Schizophrenia  can occur in childhood or later, such as:

  • Suicide, suicide attempts, and thoughts of suicide
  • self injury
  • Anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Abuse of alcohol or other drugs, including tobacco
  • family conflicts
  • Inability to live independently, attend school or work
  • Social isolation
  • Health and medical issues
  • be a victim
  • Legal and financial problems, and homelessness
  • Aggressive, though uncommon, behavior

Diagnosis of Childhood Schizophrenia:  Diagnosis of Childhood Schizophrenia involves ruling out other mental health disorders and determining that the symptoms are not due to substance abuse, medication, or a medical condition. The diagnostic process may involve:

  • Physical exam. This can be done to help rule out other issues that may be causing symptoms and check for any related complications.
  • Tests and exams. These may include tests that help rule out conditions with similar symptoms and alcohol and drug screening. The doctor may also order imaging studies, such as an MRI or CT scan.
  • Psychological assessment. This includes observing appearance and behavior, asking about thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns, including thoughts of self-harm or harming others, assessing ability to think and function at an age-appropriate level, and assessing mood, anxiety, and possible psychotic symptoms. This also includes a discussion of family and personal history.
  • Diagnostic Criteria for Childhood Schizophrenia  . Your doctor or mental health professional may use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. The diagnostic criteria for Childhood Schizophrenia are generally the same as for adult schizophrenia.

Challenging Process:  The path to a diagnosis of Childhood Schizophrenia  can sometimes be long and challenging. In part, this is because other conditions, such as depression or bipolar disorder, can have similar symptoms.

A child psychiatrist may want to monitor your child’s behaviors, perceptions, and thought patterns for six months or longer. As thought and behavior patterns and signs and symptoms become clearer over time, a diagnosis of Childhood Schizophrenia  can be made.

In some cases, a psychiatrist may recommend starting medications before the official diagnosis. This is especially important for symptoms of aggression or self-injury. Some medications can help limit these types of behavior and restore a sense of normalcy.

Childhood Schizophrenia Treatments: Childhood  Schizophrenia in   children requires lifelong treatment, even during periods when symptoms seem to disappear. Treatment is a particular challenge for children with schizophrenia.

Treatment Team:  Treatment of Childhood Schizophrenia is usually guided by a child psychiatrist with experience in the treatment of schizophrenia. The team approach may be available at clinics experienced in treating schizophrenia. The team can include, for example, your:

  • Psychiatrist, psychologist or other therapist
  • psychiatric nurse
  • social worker
  • Members of the family
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Case manager to coordinate care

Main treatment options:  The main treatments for Childhood Schizophrenia are:

  • Medicines
  • Psychotherapy
  • Life skills training
  • Hospitalization
  • Medicines:
  • Most antipsychotics used in children are the same as those used for adults with schizophrenia. Antipsychotic medications are often effective in managing symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, loss of motivation and lack of emotion.

In general, the goal of antipsychotic treatment is to effectively manage symptoms with the lowest possible dose. Over time, your child’s doctor may try combinations, different medications, or different doses.

Depending on the symptoms, other medications may also help, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. It may take several weeks after starting a medication to notice an improvement in symptoms.

Second-Generation Antipsychotics:  New, second-generation drugs are generally preferred because they have fewer side effects than first-generation antipsychotics. However, they can cause weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and heart disease. Examples of second-generation antipsychotics approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat schizophrenia in adolescents 13 years of age and older include:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)

Paliperidone (Invega) is FDA-approved for children 12 years of age and older.

First-Generation Antipsychotics:  These first-generation medications are usually as effective as second-generation antipsychotics in controlling delusions and hallucinations. In addition to having side effects similar to second-generation antipsychotics, first-generation antipsychotics can also have frequent and potentially significant neurological side effects. These may include the possibility of developing a movement disorder (tardive dyskinesia) that may or may not be reversible.

Due to the increased risk of serious side effects with first-generation antipsychotics, they are often not recommended for use in children until other options have been tried without success. Examples of FDA-approved first-generation antipsychotics to treat Childhood and Adolescent Schizophrenia  include:

  • Chlorpromazine for children 13 years and older
  • Haloperidol for children 3 years and older
  • Perphenazine for children 12 years and older

First-generation antipsychotics are often cheaper than second-generation antipsychotics, especially generic versions, which can be an important consideration when long-term treatment is needed.

Medication Side Effects and Risks:  All antipsychotic medications have side effects and potential health risks, some life-threatening. Side effects in children and teens may not be the same as in adults, and can sometimes be more severe. Children, especially very young children, may not be able to understand or communicate about medication problems.

Talk to your child’s doctor about possible side effects and how to manage them. Be alert to your child’s problems and report side effects to the doctor as soon as possible. The doctor can adjust the dose or change medications and limit side effects.

In addition, antipsychotic medications can have dangerous interactions with other substances. Tell your child’s doctor about all medications and over-the-counter products your child takes, including vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements.

Psychotherapy:  In addition to medication, psychotherapy, sometimes called talk therapy, can help manage symptoms and help you and your child deal with the disorder. Psychotherapy can include:

  • Individual therapy. Psychotherapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy, with a qualified mental health specialist can help your child learn ways to deal with the stress and daily life challenges brought on by schizophrenia. Therapy can help reduce symptoms and help your child make friends and succeed in school. Learning about Childhood Schizophrenia  can help your child understand the condition, deal with symptoms, and maintain a treatment plan.
  • Family therapy. Your child and family can benefit from therapy that provides support and education for families. Involved family members who understand Childhood Schizophrenia can be extremely helpful to children living with this condition. Family therapy can also help you and your family improve communication, resolve conflict, and deal with stress related to your child’s condition. Life skills training:

Treatment plans that include building life skills can help your child function at age-appropriate levels when possible. Skills training can include:

  • Social and academic skills training. Social and academic skills training is an important part of treatment for Childhood Schizophrenia . Children with schizophrenia often have relationship problems and school problems. They may have difficulty performing normal daily tasks, such as bathing or dressing.
  • Vocational rehabilitation and supported employment. This focuses on helping people with Childhood Schizophrenia  prepare for, find and keep jobs.

During periods of crisis or times of severe symptoms, hospitalization may be necessary. This can help ensure your child’s safety and make sure he or she is getting proper nutrition , sleep, and hygiene.

Sometimes the hospital setting is the safest and best way to quickly control symptoms. Partial hospitalization and residential care may be options, but severe symptoms are usually stabilized in the hospital before moving to these levels of care.

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