Could Son Have Schizophrenia?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Can someone please tell me if there can be any other diagnosis other than schizophrenia for bizarre illusions in a 13 year old going through puberty who shows few other symptoms of mental illness. The more I read the more worried I get.

My son recently started seeing “pictures in his head” that he can’t get rid of. Thinking it was a processing issue and due to his extreme agitation he agreed to see a psychotherapist at our suggestion. He’s had two sessions.

A recent conversation where he told me that he had “two” brains, the one that he was born with and one that was put in his head around 6 months ago which allows him to know things no once else can understand with their normal brain, alarmed me enough to contact the therapist. She’s been very responsive and I’m happy to let him continue but her feeling is it’s early days and would like to wait a while longer before referring him to a psychiatrist. His anxiety is down and at this point she is assessing him every two weeks which he is happy with.

Other than the delusions and some anxiety about hiding them for the last year, my son is well adjusted and displays no other signatures for schizophrenia that couldn’t be explained by hormones. He’s not on drugs, performs well at school, has many friends and is engaged emotionally with his family and loved ones.

But my concern is that I can find nothing in my research on the web to justify delusions in a 12 year old other than schizophrenia. There seem to be no other alternate diagnoses for the presence of bizarre delusions. Finding further information that the longer the delusions persist the worse the condition can become and that children who are diagnosed have a much lower prognosis of recovery than if they entered the illness in adulthood leads me to feel that perhaps we should insist that he get evaluated sooner rather than later.

Please help if you can.

A. The moment you suspected that something was wrong, you sought help for your son. You are also spending a great deal of time researching his problem. You are doing all the right things.

I would concur that his delusions are concerning. They are unusual. Schizophrenia rarely occurs among children. At this time, he may not meet the criteria for schizophrenia but it is important that his symptoms are evaluated. You should consult a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist may suggest medication to reduce his symptoms or as a precautionary measure to help prevent the development of a full-blown psychotic episode.

People can experience symptoms of psychosis as a result of serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Psychosis can also be brought on by drug use, fever, organic brain disorders, dementia, and on very rare occasions, parasitic infections. You may want to have your son evaluated by a neurologist to rule out a physical disorder.

Finally, you should check with local hospitals and universities to determine if they have a first-episode or early psychosis program. These programs typically offer highly specialized evaluations for individuals who are in the early stages of schizophrenia or who are experiencing psychosis. Many “first-episode” programs also offer psychoeducational programming to patient’s families. Massachusetts General Hospital has a First-Episode and Early Psychosis program. Similar programs also exist in other states.

Generally speaking, the sooner that a person receives treatment for psychosis, the better the outcome. It seems that you’re doing everything you can. He is fortunate to have you in his life. You are keenly sensitive to his symptoms and needs. The early help that you can help to facilitate has the potential to make a major positive difference. I wish you and your son the best of luck. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Jan 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Could Son Have Schizophrenia?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/01/09/could-son-have-schizophrenia/