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Schizophrenia: Commonly Misdiagnosed in Teenagers

Conduct Disorder, Hormonal Changes, Oppositional Defiance, Schizophrenia

As a mental health complication which affects nearly one out of every 100 United States, schizophrenia is a difficult mental health condition to diagnose. While the mental health disorder is considered hereditary, there are many patients who have no familial history of schizophrenia in their families. Because teenagers commonly show a variety of mental health impairments, most of which could be based on hormonal changes, the teenager suffering from schizophrenia may be at a greater risk for complications than any other age group.

While men tend to suffer from schizophrenia more often than women, it is important for parents of teenagers to be aware of the symptoms of schizophrenia so as to ensure the child is properly diagnosed and treated as soon as feasibly possible. Symptoms most often associated with teen schizophrenia may include hallucinations, symptoms mimicking depression, lack of interest in activities, erractic behavior and thoughts and, in extreme cases, catatonic behavior in which the teen will remain still, in odd positions, for a very long period of time.

Because teenagers suffer from a variety of hormonal changes, parents often misdiagnose schizophrenia as a conduct disorder or to oppositional defiance. In teens with schizophrenia, disorganized speech often results in the teen being unable to communicate clearly at school or at home resulting, therefore, in some degree of social withdrawal.

When undiagnosed and untreated, schizophrenia does progressively worsen. For this reason, it is important that parents seek out the attention of a mental health professional early in the teen years to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment is applied. As a general rule, when teenagers are diagnosed with schizophrenia, medications and therapy are a successful form of treatment and provide the teen with a somewhat normal progression through middle school, junior high and high school.

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Should your teen suffer from the effects of schizophrenia, when diagnosed, it is important to begin the process to secure Supplemental Security Income for the child as they will require such services into adulthood. Beginning this application process, early, with the Social Security Administration will ensure benefits are initiated early, offering the schizophrenia child with an opportunity for vocational retraining, lifetime medical benefits through Medicaid and housing and food assistance.

As parents of teenagers, we can certainly related to the turmoil these years bring upon us. In rare cases, however, the teenagers irregularly and erratic behavior may be attributed to a much more complex mental health complication. For this reason, when caring for a teen with abnormal behavior, consult a healthcare professional, including mental health providers, to rule out a mental health disorder such as schizophrenia.