Category Archives: Suicide

Beyond Imaginary Friends: Signs And Treatment Of Schizophrenia In Childhood

Schizophrenia is a rare but severe medical illness that usually manifests in adulthood. But the onset and its early warning signs may appear during childhood and adolescence.

Diagnosing schizophrenia is very difficult because of its rare manifestation in children under age 13, and because the symptoms are similar to autism and conduct disorder. Ruling out the latter disorders, which are more common among children, is the first step to a prognosis for schizophrenia. Some early indications of the disease are language delays, unusual motor behaviors, and hearing voices that are not real.

Image source: nhs.uk
Image source: nhs.uk

The disease progresses in puberty, at which point an adolescent may recognize that their experiences are a cause for concern. Signs of a developing psychosis are hallucinations, disorganized thinking or bizarre thoughts, paranoia, severe anxiety, confusing movies or dreams from reality, increased isolation, and difficulty in focusing.

Image source: everylivingthing.ca
Image source: everylivingthing.ca

Children and adolescents showing these symptoms must be evaluated by a specialist immediately for early diagnosis. The disease can be managed with medication, individual and family therapy, specialized programs, and life skills training.

Dr. Jonathan Lauter is a certified psychiatrist and a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He runs a private practice in Manhattan and holds a clinic at the Refuah Health Center in Spring Valley, New York. For more articles on child and adolescent mental health, subscribe here.

New Study Urges Teen Checkups To Include Suicide Risk

Image source: philly.com
Image source: philly.com

Medical doctors are now urging teen checkups to include a suicide risk. A recent survey has found that more teenagers are suffering from mental conditions such as depression and anxiety. These medical illnesses have been distinctly linked to the potential for suicide. The World Health Organization has estimated that a life is lost to suicide every 60 seconds worldwide. Many of those people were diagnosed with or suspected of having either depression or anxiety.

What is challenging is that depression and suicide risk are different among adolescents. Typical signs of depression include the loss of pleasure at ordinary activities and dramatic changes in sleeping and eating habits. These characteristics manifest themselves in younger adults, but there is also an added variance of anger. This is what throws off most parents who attribute the aggressiveness to normal teenage rebellion. Teenagers – who are expressive in their own way – often do not understand themselves what is going on in their minds. Their cries for help may take the form of unnecessary shouting or temper tantrums. Parents are not able to fully recognize the symptoms and are at a loss as to what to do.

Image source: linkedIn.com
Image source: linkedIn.com

This is why regular and annual check-ups are requested to include suicide risk programs. Mental health practitioners are increasingly worried about the growing rate of teenage suicides in the nation. These deaths are preventable with early detection and immediate intervention.

Jonathan B. Lauter, M.D., is a child and adolescent psychologist. His clients have benefitted from his knowledge about the behavior of children and teenagers. Learn more by liking this Facebook page.