Childhood Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder causing disruptions in normal ways of thinking and perception. It is found to be rare under the age of 18, but if present in can be characterized by deterioration in thinking, motor, and emotional processes. Symptoms include auditory and visual hallucinations, strange thoughts/feelings, and abnormal behavior. These behavioral changes are mostly gradual in nature and cause significant impairment in child’s ability in maintaining interpersonal relations and daily routine.

The symptoms of childhood schizophrenia are similar to adult schizophrenia:

Social withdrawal
Disturb sleep
Hearing sounds or voices that are unreal
Strong unshakable beliefs that others want to harm them
Bizarre thoughts and behavior
    Sudden drastic changes in behavior
    Illogical thinking
    Extreme fearfulness
    Difficulty in maintaining relations or friends
    Decrease school performance

The cause for childhood schizophrenia is unclear and can be due to several factors such as genetic predisposition, exposure to drugs such as cannabis, neurological deficits, injury or infection to brain. A strong family history of schizophrenia increases the risk for psychosis in the child.
Presence of any of these symptoms is clinically examined by psychiatrist or clinical psychologist followed by diagnosis. Treatment involves prescribed medication along with individual therapy, family therapy or behavioral therapy as required.

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