Schizophrenia: How to Know If your Teen Has It
While parents spend days, weeks, months and years obsessing about the physical wellbeing of their children, the risk of psychotic illnesses and disorders remain mainly ignored. But a disorder like schizophrenia is very much a reality for many teens around the world. Identifying the early signs of schizophrenia in teenagers can help parents determine the course of action and start the treatment.
Causes of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder wherein a patient is unable to tell the difference between what is real and what is not. As a result, the patient is likely to suffer from life-altering changes in behavior, moods, delusions and hallucinations. A clear causal agent of schizophrenia is not yet determined but the disorder can be onset or aggravated by –
- Family history contributing to genetic predisposition
- Exposure to viruses, infections or malnutrition in pre-natal state
- Head trauma during early years of childhood
- Use of drugs or other substance abuse conditions
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Although schizophrenia in teens is rare, it still exists in about 1% of the population. Most teens are likely to develop early signs or symptoms of schizophrenia in their late teen years. Girls develop symptoms of schizophrenia later than boys on an average. Most commonly observed symptoms of schizophrenia which gradually manifest over several months are –
Delusions and changed cognition:
This is the most common symptom of schizophrenia as due to unbalanced brain activity, your teen would become delusional. This includes symptoms like confusing television shows or characters with reality, developing extreme paranoia against certain individuals or institutions or confusing dreams with reality.
Change in behavior:
Long bouts of depression, increased level of isolation, irritability and increasing distance from former friends are common symptoms of schizophrenia.
Hallucinations and changed perception:
Seeing unreal visions, or visual hallucinations, and hearing voices, or auditory hallucinations, are commonly seen symptoms. Auditory hallucinations can disturb the mental peace of the patient even further.
As schizophrenia progresses, your teen may become unable to communicate coherently or start using a disorganized language which could be impossible to understand.
Laughing in a pressurizing or sad situation and crying during a party without aggravation could be some of the commonly seen positive symptoms of schizophrenia.
A differential diagnostics can be administered by doctors using blood tests and brain evaluation with MRI, CT scan and EEG tests. This is essential as many symptoms of schizophrenia can coincide with other psychotic disorders. As a parent you must be aware of which warning signs to look for and take a call of enlisting professional help in time. With care and medication, this disorder can be controlled to a great extent.