Juvenile schizophrenia or childhood schizophrenia is one and the same. It is a severe brain disorder in which your child interprets reality in an abnormal way. It affects the way your child thinks, behaves or shows up the motions. Juvenile schizophrenia results in a combination of hallucinations, delusions and disorganized thinking.
The main cause of childhood schizophrenia is not clear. But it develops as the same way like in adult schizophrenia.
Juvenile schizophrenia and other types of schizophrenia are brain disorders. Genetic variations and environmental changes may cause schizophrenia.
Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters contribute to childhood schizophrenia.
The early signs and symptoms of juvenile schizophrenia include developmental problems like late walking, late crawling, and language delays.
These symptoms are often confused with pervasive developmental disorders. Therefore, your doctor may rule out other developmental disorders in your child.
The common symptoms of schizophrenia in teens are social withdrawal, trouble sleeping, typical behavior, lack of motivation, and depressed mood.
As the children with schizophrenia grow the signs and symptoms would be more typical. The symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and abnormal motor behavior.
The following factors increase the risk of juvenile schizophrenia:
Older age of the father
Abnormal immune system
Family history of schizophrenia
Malnourishment while in womb
Exposure to certain viruses, toxins
The doctor would ask about your child’s medical and psychiatric history, and then performs a physical examination followed by psychological screening tests. Your doctor asks about your child’s progress at school. This entire process can help to diagnose schizophrenia and also to rule out other problems that could be the reasons for the symptoms.
The diagnostic testing involves:
Screening:your doctor would order for blood tests to rule out other disorders that show similar symptoms of schizophrenia. Your doctor would also order for imaging studies such as MRI or CT scan of the head. This helps in understanding the abnormalities in the brain structure. Electroencephalogram (EEG) is used to look for abnormalities in brain functions.Psychological evaluation
During this evaluation, your doctor may ask about your feelings, thoughts, and behavior patterns. Your doctor would also evaluate your child’s ability of thinking and functioning.
The main treatment options for childhood schizophrenia include:
Medications: your doctor would prescribe antipsychotic medications which are beneficial in treating and managing the symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, lack of motivation.
Your doctor would determine the lowest possible effective dose of antipsychotics for you to reduce the side effects caused due to the medications.
You must also use antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications as well.
Individual therapy: psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy would help your child to understand the symptoms and effects of the disease and helps in sticking to the treatment plan.
Family therapy: Family therapy contributes to improving the communication between the family and the affected child. It provides support and education to the family on how to care the child.