You're likely to start by first having your child see his or her pediatrician or family doctor. In some cases, you may be referred immediately to a specialist, such as a pediatric psychiatrist or other mental health provider who specializes in child development.
In rare cases where safety is an issue, your child may require an emergency evaluation in the emergency room and possibly a hospital specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry.
What you can do
Being an active participant in your child's care is critical. Before the appointment make a list of:
- Any symptoms you've noticed, including when these symptoms began and how they've changed over time — include specific examples
- Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes that may be affecting your child
- Any other medical conditions, including mental health problems, that your child has
- All medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements that your child takes, including the dosage
Questions to ask
Make a list of questions to ask the doctor, such as:
- What is likely causing my child's symptoms or condition?
- What are other possible causes?
- What kinds of tests does my child need?
- Is my child's condition likely temporary or long term?
- How will a diagnosis of childhood schizophrenia affect my child's life?
- What's the best treatment for my child?
- What specialists does my child need to see?
- Who else will be involved in the care of my child?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask questions anytime that you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your child's doctor is likely to ask you and your child a number of questions. Anticipating some of these questions will help make the discussion productive. Your doctor may ask:
Feb. 28, 2014
- When did symptoms first start?
- Have symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are the symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve the symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen the symptoms?
- How do the symptoms affect your child's daily life?
- Have any relatives had a mental illness?
- Has your child experienced any physical or emotional trauma?
- Do symptoms seem to be related to major changes or stressors within the family or social environment?
- Have any other medical symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, tremors or fevers, occurred around the same time that the symptoms started?
- What medications, including herbs, vitamins and other supplements, does your child take?
- Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Schizophrenia. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia/complete-publication.shtml. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Fischer BA, et al. Schizophrenia: Clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Fischer BA, et al. Schizophrenia: Epidemiology and pathogenesis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Stroup TS, et al. Pharmacotherapy for schizophrenia: Acute and maintenance phase treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Mental illness and the family: Recognizing warning signs and how to cope. Mental Health America. http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/mi-and-the-family/recognizing-warning-signs-and-how-to-cope. Accessed May 16, 2013.
- Factsheet: Schizophrenia in children. Mental Health America. http://www.nmha.org/index.cfm?objectId=C7DF8F81-1372-4D20-C84C5539FAB14576. Accessed Sept. 13, 2013.
- McClellan J, et al. Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with schizophrenia. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2013;52:976.
- Facts for families: Schizophrenia in children. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Schizophrenia_In_Children_49.aspx. Accessed Sept. 13, 2013.
- Staying well when you have a mental health condition. Mental Health America. http://www.nmha.org/go/mental-health-month/staying-well-when-you-have-a-mental-illness. Accessed Sept. 13, 2013.
- Abidi S. Psychosis in children and youth: Focus on early-onset schizophrenia. Pediatrics in Review. 2013;34:296.
- Huxsahl JE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 30, 2013.