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 professional who's an expert in schizophrenia.
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
Before the appointment make a list of:
- Any symptoms you've noticed, including when these symptoms began and how they've changed over time — give 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 doses
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 any other questions during your appointment.
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:
- 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 been diagnosed with schizophrenia or another 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?
Sept. 29, 2016
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- 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 Aug. 2, 2016.
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- Supporting a friend or family member with mental health problems. MentalHealth.gov. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members/. Accessed July 19, 2016.
- Bustillo J, et al. Psychosocial intervention for schizophrenia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 23, 2016.
- Childhood schizophrenia. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/mental-disorders-in-children-and-adolescents/childhood-schizophrenia. Accessed Aug. 2, 2016.
- Childhood schizophrenia. Merck Manual Consumer Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/mental-health-disorders-in-children-and-adolescents/childhood-schizophrenia. Accessed Aug. 2, 2016.
- McClellan J, et al. Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with schizophrenia. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2013;52:976.
- Schizophrenia. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml. Accessed July 19, 2016.
- Jibson MD. First-generation antipsychotic medication: Pharmacology, administration and comparative side effects. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 9, 2016.
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- Atypical antipsychotic medications: Use in pediatric patients. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/medicare-medicaid-coordination/fraud-prevention/medicaid-integrity-education/pharmacy-education-materials/downloads/atyp-antipsych-pediatric-factsheet.pdf. Accessed Aug. 21, 2016.