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Child Schizophrenia

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 24 Oct 2014 | comments*Discuss
Schizophrenia child Onset Schizophrenia

In the United Kingdom, Schizophrenia affects one in every 100 people but rarely affects children younger than 15 years of age. Though it is rare, there are some children who suffer from Schizophrenia and unfortunately it is difficult to determine what the long term affects of this mental illness will be for these children. The earlier Schizophrenia is recognised or even suspected in a child, the better the chance of effective treatments being established, so parents who suspect that their child might be suffering from Schizophrenia should seek professional help immediately.

Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia often fall into two groups: positive symptoms and negative symptoms. Children who suffer from Schizophrenia often experience both types. Positive symptoms include delusions (untrue beliefs), thought disorder (an inability to think “straight”) and hallucinations (the experience of a sight/sound/smell that isn’t actually there to be experienced). Negative symptoms include apathy and social withdrawal which may manifest in behaviours such as losing interest in activities that the child previously enjoyed, a lack of concern with personal hygiene and a lack of enthusiasm or concentration for tasks such as chores or schoolwork. Again, not all children with Schizophrenia will experience all symptoms but an observable mix of positive and negative symptoms is likely.

Diagnosis of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia can only be diagnosed in children by a qualified child mental health expert. This will usually be a child psychiatrist. Child Onset Schizophrenia, sometimes also called Early Onset Schizophrenia, is diagnosed similarly to adult Schizophrenia. Two of the symptoms described above must be observed for a diagnosis, they must have been present for at least six months, and they must interfere with daily life. Unfortunately Schizophrenia is very difficult to diagnose in children, so mis-diagnoses such as for depression and Bipolar Disorder are common.

Treatment of Schizophrenia
Medication is the main method of treatment for Schizophrenia. The medications prescribed for Schizophrenia are categorised as anti-psychotics or neuroleptics. Unfortunately, these medications often have severe side effects, including significant weight gain. Many children living with Schizophrenia often have associated symptoms which need to be treated separately as well. Family therapy and changes to a child’s educational arrangements are often also suggested for children suffering from Schizophrenia.

Living with Schizophrenia
Children living with Schizophrenia must follow their treatment plans consistently for the treatments to be most effective. These children must be supported at home and at school, so relatives and friends of children diagnosed with Schizophrenia should be ready to provide love, support and patience as well as verbal encouragement. All children should be served a healthy diet and expected to engage in regular exercise routines, though children with Schizophrenia are often opposed to social situations, so team games may not be the best options. Weight gain is often a significant side effect of the medications used to treat Schizophrenia, so a healthy diet and plenty of exercise are extra important for children suffering from this illness.

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects very few children but unfortunately has greater effects on an individual’s life the earlier it is present. Diagnosing and treating Schizophrenia as early as possible is imperative to help children lead more happy lives. Parents concerned that their child may be showing signs of Schizophrenia should consult a GP or child psychiatrist for further information.

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@carrie. It's tough to deal with this kind of behaviour. Hopefully the advice on this site will offer some suggestions as to what you could try to get to the bottom of your daughter's behaviour. If you feel she has mental issues, then you should ask your GP for a referral for assessment.
KidsBehaviour - 27-Oct-14 @ 12:16 PM
I'm concerned about my 4 year old daughters mental health,, she has a very short temper, and isconstantly argumentative with me,, even over unnecessary things, like walking to nursary, to the point where she throws herself to the floor,, she constantly screams and growls at me, she even snarls at me!Isaggressive and spiteful towards her two brothers and me,, she tells lies to get them in trouble, or she deliberatly does things to get them in trouble or upset them,, she has extreme anger issues,,Im a single mother of 3 it's always been that way so she has never had a father figure,, but she talks about him and praises him up all the time, yet she hardly knows hI'm, im a good mum and have always taught my children to have good manors and be polite,, I don't no why she is so angy all the time,, she don't play with there children in nursary she prefers to play by herself,, any help I'm at my wits end! This is not just a phase she's going through,she's always been like it, even as a baby she would scream and smack me.She also has an obsession with being older,, she would rather join in with adults then play with other children
carrie - 24-Oct-14 @ 5:52 PM
my daughter has started to worry me of late she is 5 years old she cannot sit still she will fly into a rage (very distressing ) about the most trivial of things she doesnt concentrate for long on one thing she will repeat herself over and over at times for praise on something she has done good. she is quite happy to play alone as things can then be done her way she gets very protective of her things any ideas???????
sarah82 - 3-Sep-12 @ 6:34 PM
is it possible my 8 yr old daughter is schizophrenic when she was a baby all sheid was cry as she got older she started talking to her self and saying whos this to the point were i had the house blessed as she scared me she doesnt sleep properly as she says there is someone in there talking to and she sees them there is a history of it in the family she lies alot and says it wasnt her that did things even if she has been seen doing it she makes things up and believes them like they are real and often live in a fantasy land she steals gets very angry she self harms my daughter is seeing a doctor but so far we had no proper help when she goes on one she can go days with out any sleep she starts to look very ill and drawn in the face
lizzie - 31-Jan-12 @ 3:46 PM
I'm only 12, but I've experienced various symptoms of this since I think age 6 is the first I remember. I've always been paranoid, but particularly when I was younger I was convinced that people close to me were plotting/manipulating against me and the like- I still do have thoughts like others will turn against me and expose things about me, and whenever I hear a plan against someone (however ridiculous it may be). I've never been particularly popular or sociable and often get embarrased and start worrying the more ~popular~ students will sabotage what social life I have in some way. Am I likely to have schizophrenia or am I just being hyperchondriac? (Sorry if I sound like i've swallowed a thesaurus. I do generally talk like that in real life, and maybe one of my social issues is that people can't understand a thing I say.)
Lea - 23-Sep-11 @ 5:56 PM
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