Early-Onset Psychosis / First Psychotic Break

What is Early-onset psychosis (EOP)

Early-onset psychosis is a group of conditions that include schizophrenia in children and teens. It is also called childhood-onset psychosis or first psychotic break, and it is a severe condition that starts at or before 12 years old and often persists in adulthood.  EOP is essentially the same condition as adult-onset psychosis, but it is more severe.  Unfortunately, when psychotic symptoms develop in children, they are usually worse than when they start in older patients. 

Although the symptoms EOP/schizophrenia are the same in childhood as in adults, it is harder to diagnose, because children with other conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD),  and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can have the same symptoms of EOP. Children who have psychotic symptoms must be evaluated by a psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of children and adolescents to first rule out conditions  such as ASD, OCD, ADHD, substance abuse, etc.

What are some symptoms of EOP?

Only a trained mental health provider with the required experience is qualified to make a diagnosis of EOP.  Below is a list with some of the symptoms that the psychiatrist looks at, taking into consideration how long ago did they start.

  • Fixed irrational ideas  called delusions
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there)
  • Disorganized speech (not making sense or gibberish)
  • Severely disorganized behavior
  • Catatonia (staying still in the same position for a long period of time)
  • Severely poor performance in school
  • Severe challenges with interpersonal relations or self-care

Are there lab tests for EOP?

There are no lab tests that say can say if your child has EOP, but it’s necessary to do some tests to make sure that the symptoms are not because there is something else going on.  Some of these tests may include blood and urine tests to look at their blood cells, electrolytes, and how well their kidneys and liver are working.  Also, if appropriate, we can look at some drugs that can show up in the urine.

What treatment options are there for EOP?

In severe cases, usually during their first psychotic break, children may need to be hospitalized (usually taken to the Emergency Room) until they are stable and are not considered a danger to themselves or others.

Antipsychotic medications may stimulate the appetite, causing weight gain and possibly obesity, which increases their risk of having diabetes.

Children and teens with EOP need to be treated with antipsychotic medication but this is not the only treatment available, and in fact, medication alone is not enough to treat EOP. Diet therapy and nutritional supplementation in combination with other treatments can reduce the severity and progression of psychotic symptoms. 

Our team is composed of qualified healthcare providers who, besides being equipped to diagnose and recommend the most effective therapies, are a caring and compassionate group of people who will do a thorough evaluation of your child’s mental and physical health and will formulate a comprehensive, holistic treatment tailored to their individual needs, such as the type of condition, their age, how long they have been having symptoms, etc.  

Your integrative team at Novo goes above and beyond to not only address your child’s condition, but also support their health in the most effective, comprehensive and holistic way. Some treatment options include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Behavior modification
  • Medication
  • Naturopathic medicine
  • Diet modification
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Mindfulness techniques

To know more about EOP and how NovoTelehealth can support your child and your family in living a happier, healthier life, book an appointment with us online or at one of our locations.

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