Psychosis is a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. Psychosis is present in various mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, can be due to brain trauma or caused by drugs abuse. Loosening of associations and illogical thinking decrease markedly after about age 6 – 7 years in children. According to W.H.O., 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental disorders. Half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by mid-20s. Neuropsychiatric conditions are the leading cause of disability in young people in all regions. These signs and symptoms of psychosis in children can help early detection.
First, it is important to note that most children who exhibit psychotic or psychotic-like symptoms do not have a true psychotic disorder. Preschool children often experience transient feeling involving the apparent perception of something not present (visual & tactile are most common) and they usually resolve on their own.
Most of all, male and female have equal chances of having the disease. However, a family history of psychosis or psychiatric diseases and previous head trauma increases a child’s chance of having psychosis.
Signs and symptoms of childhood psychosis
The signs and symptoms of childhood psychosis are similar to the adult presentation. It is, however, important to rule out mental retardation and other developmental disorders such as autism and learning difficulties. We can conclude that a child has psychosis if the child;
- Withdraws from family, friends and environment
- Increases in frequency of irritation and anger
- Hears or sees things that are not there
- Has strange beliefs they cannot be talked out of
- Is very suspicious or paranoid
- Acts very differently than they did before
- Suddenly stops reacting to other people
- Speaks in ways that do not make sense
- Appears not to be feeling anything
- Loses motivation to do things
- Loses interest in things that they used to enjoy
- Is confused
In conclusion, it is important you seek medical help once you notice these symptoms. It is also important to stop drug abuse as this can also lead to a psychotic-like presentation.