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The Impact of Schizophrenia on Teen Mental Health

By August 7, 2023August 11th, 2023Mental Health

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe neurological disorder that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It is characterized by “disruptions in thought processes, perceptions, emotional responsiveness, and social interactions,” in which the individual is unable to distinguish between real and unreal experiences. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the onset of schizophrenia typically occurs between ages 15 and 25 for men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) and between 25 and 35 for women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB). Schizophrenia is considered early onset when symptoms present before the age of 18 and is rarely diagnosed in children younger than age 13. Nevertheless, findings from clinical, neuroimaging, neuropsychological and neurobiological studies support that there is a “substantial continuity between childhood, adolescent and adult schizophrenia, despite developmental differences.” The distorted thinking patterns that present with schizophrenia lead to disabling symptoms that can have a profound impact on the mental health of teenagers.

Signs and Symptoms

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) explains that schizophrenia is “a serious mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.” The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia vary from person to person, but most commonly involve disorganized speech, visual and/ or auditory hallucinations, delusions, certain antisocial behavior patterns (e.g., involuntary movements, poor hygiene practices, catatonia, etc.), and interpersonal relationship issues. According to the Mayo Clinic, early signs and symptoms of schizophrenia in adolescents may include:

  • Problems with thinking and reasoning
  • Bizarre ideas or speech
  • Confusing dreams or television for reality
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lack of motivation
  • Not meeting daily expectations (e.g., bathing or dressing)
  • Unusual behavior
  • Violent or aggressive behavior or agitation
  • Recreational drug or nicotine use
  • Irritability or depressed mood
  • Lack of emotion, or emotions inappropriate for the situation
  • Strange anxieties and fears
  • Excessive suspicion of others

In adolescents with schizophrenia, behavior changes may occur slowly, over time, or have a sudden onset. Compared with schizophrenia symptoms in adults, teens may be less likely to have delusions and more likely to have visual hallucinations.



There is no cure for schizophrenia, but long-term treatment can help a teen learn how to manage his or her symptoms and prevent the worsening of symptoms. In most cases, integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful long-term results. The Mayo Clinic asserts “medications are the cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment, and antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed drugs.” Depending on the specific needs of the young person, treatment plans could include wide variety of therapeutic modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, family-centered interventions, and more. Early detection, prompt intervention, and comprehensive treatment can improve the quality of life experienced by teenagers with schizophrenia.


For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.


Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.




We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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