Adolescents are among the most common age group to first experience schizophrenia; as such, being able to spot the symptoms of teenage schizophrenia accurately is important in this phase. A concerned parent who is unsure, will want to familiarize his or herself with the signs and seek a medical opinion. This is especially significant as there are many misconceptions about schizophrenia overall. Here some actual symptoms that may indicate this condition.
These symptoms in teens may arise over the course of several months or more.
- Increasing inability to properly focus attention
- Auditory or visual hallucinations, as well as an inaccurate perception of reality
- Vacillating between extreme emotions, such as anger, fearfulness and annoyance
- Proclivity to substance abuse, poor hygiene or social difficulties
- Preference for isolated environments
- Talking to oneself
- Strange movements
- Absence of certain facial expressions
Many still believe that if a patient has schizophrenia, they will be incapable of leading a normal and healthy life. This is simply not true, as medication and therapy help to make symptoms more manageable. Stereotypes over generalize the idea of hallucinations and suspicion of others being the only symptoms. In reality, the disorder affects decision making, control of emotions and may lead to delusions — false beliefs that the schizophrenic will maintain as being true.
Another common misconception is that those with this condition are a danger to others. This is not often so, as their isolating behavior makes this less likely. Conversely, a schizophrenic is more likely to be a victim in a confrontational situation. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who is schizophrenic may even be aware that they have this illness. Diagnosis may be delayed because those with symptoms may not be able to tell anything is wrong.
Another misnomer about schizophrenia is the classification of this condition as a multiple personality disorder. This is also untrue.
One reason for the misconceptions is due to the media portrayal of schizophrenia. Unfortunately, the term has inappropriately been used to describe events and circumstances that have nothing to do with health disorders at all. Contrary to public perception based off media coverage of incidents involving schizophrenics there is a greater chance of self harm than violence against another. Some also tend to stereotype those with schizophrenia as being unintelligent, though there are many with this issue who have displayed great intelligence and some studies have shown there is a gene linked to both schizophrenia and intelligence.
Parents who have a son that is diagnosed with schizophrenia may be naturally concerned about his future. Thankfully, with adequate treatment, there is still the possibility of going to college, holding a job and having a family. Treatment may include family therapy and one-on-one therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used in order to assist with maladaptive behaviors. Medications, normally antipsychotics, are also usually prescribed to help with symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions while antianxiety medications and antidepressants may also be helpful.
There are a number of considerations parents should keep in mind when working with a teen with schizophrenia. For one, it is necessary to ensure any medications for schizophrenia being taken do not conflict with other medications. They should also ensure that the adolescent avoids tobacco, alcohol and controlled substances and includes regular exercise and a proper diet. The teen should also take medication as prescribed and parents should watch for any red flags that may trigger symptoms.
It goes without saying that those with schizophrenia may be teased or ridiculed by peers due to the negative views attached to it. However, this can be a great opportunity for an adolescent and their family and friends to advocate improved awareness, helping to remove the associated stigma. It is helpful to better educate other students in school about schizophrenia in an academic sense as well and a student with schizophrenia may take part in a presentation in order to better humanize the condition for others.
With the proper guidance, a teen can become a functioning and capable adult. Since the teenage psyche may include feelings of insecurity and uncertainty, it will be important for parents to reinforce their support. This could make all the difference in helping the adolescent and those who know him to overcome stigma.
If your teenage boy is struggling with schizophrenia, you can learn more about our holistic treatment for mental health disorders by calling 866-520-0905 for more information.