Signs & Symptoms of Schizophrenia in Adolescents

Understanding Schizophrenia

Learn about schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that can cause psychosis, or episodes of delusions, hallucinations, incoherent speech, catatonia, and other symptoms that can impair daily functioning. To warrant a diagnosis of schizophrenia, at least two of the types of episodes (delusions, hallucinations, incoherent speech, etc.) must occur for an extensive time within a period of about a month. As these symptoms persist, the episodes can impair everyday tasks and functions. Schizophrenia can also negatively impact school, work, and social activities.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia

An individual experiencing schizophrenia might experience certain signs and symptoms. It’s important to be on the lookout for these signs and symptoms of schizophrenia in your adolescent or teen so you can seek treatment early on.

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Incoherent or disorganized speech
  • Flat or monotone speech
  • Disorganized behavior
  • Hallucinations, or hearing things that aren’t there
  • Delusional speech, or speaking about things that have no basis in reality
  • Catatonia, or the inability to move
  • Social isolation

Physical symptoms:

  • Childlike behavior not appropriate for their age
  • Agitation or fidgeting
  • Still or expressionless face

Mental symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Failure to process information
  • Reduced drive to complete everyday tasks
  • Decreased enjoyment from positive events or activities


Effects of schizophrenia

Short-Term Effects

Schizophrenia can be a life-impacting mental health disorder, and a person exhibiting its signs and symptoms should seek immediate professional treatment. If left untreated, certain short-term effects can manifest in your child’s life, including:

  • Strained relationships
  • Social isolation and/or feelings of loneliness
  • Hindered academic performance
  • Behavioral problems at school
  • Poor performance at work
  • Self-harm
  • Arrest or incarceration
  • Thoughts of suicide

Please be aware that just because these are considered short-term effects does not mean they are inconsequential or temporary in nature. If you notice any of these short-term effects in your child’s life, please seek professional treatment as soon as possible.

Long-Term Effects

If further left untreated, adolescents or teens with schizophrenia may experience more long-term, or chronic, effects, including:

  • Academic failure
  • School expulsion
  • Relationship loss
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Financial debt
  • Homelessness
  • Jail time
  • Medical problems
  • Legal consequences
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide

The longer that treatment is delayed, the more intense these long-term effects may manifest themselves in your child’s life and cause detriment to their health and well-being. If left untreated, the more frequent the psychotic episodes associated with schizophrenia can become for those with this disorder and the greater the risk of suicide.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Schizophrenia and co-occurring disorders

Sometimes people who live with schizophrenia also experience a co-occurring disorder, or another mental health disorder experienced at the same time. Common co-occurring disorders include the following:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Substance use disorder (addiction)
  • Schizotypal personality disorder
  • Paranoid personality disorder

Schizophrenia can impact all areas of life — including school, work, and home. The psychotic episodes associated with schizophrenia may impair your child’s health and limit their happiness. Schizophrenia can be an isolating mental health disorder, but community can be found in treatment. Through inpatient treatment at Southstone Behavioral Health in South Boston, Virginia, hope for living with schizophrenia is possible. The compassionate and competent staff at Southstone Behavioral Health will provide the utmost care for your child. At Southstone Behavioral Health, your child can find treatment and healing.