(See also see Schizophrenia.)
Schizophrenia is the presence of hallucinations and delusions causing considerable psychosocial dysfunction and lasting ≥ 6 mo.
Onset of schizophrenia is typically from mid-adolescence to the mid-20s. Features in adolescents and young adults are similar. Schizophrenia in prepubertal children is extremely rare; features are usually similar to those in adolescents and adults, but delusions and visual hallucinations (which may be more common among children) may be less elaborate.
Sudden-onset psychosis in young children should always be treated as a medical emergency with a thorough medical assessment to search for a physiologic cause of the mental status change (eg, Wilson's disease, porphyrias, HIV infection, brain trauma).
Treatment is complex, and referral to a child and adolescent psychiatrist should be considered.
Last full review/revision April 2009 by Hugh F. Johnston, MD
Content last modified February 2012