Psychosis in Teens and Children

This topic was both hopeful and heartbreaking. When I started looking into psychosis in children didn't know much about psychosis at all, other than from my personal experiences and the reports of friends who live with chronic psychosis and/or hallucinations.

Please click on everything that's underlined. I'm not a mental health professional... just a person who's very interested in recovery from, and resiliency to, chronic illness of all sorts. Here's the general overall info page where I began today's blog research.

Looking for the causes of psychosis, it seems pretty obvious to me that it's a physical thing to begin with - but nobody seems to know what exactly yet ~ and I'm not a doctor. There's a lot of research into, and writing on, the connections between urinary tract infections and psychosispsychosis related to autoimmune disease, a connection between cat feces and mental illness, how OCD can sometimes look like psychosis, how strep infections can cause severe OCD, and some preliminary research that may point to physical inactivity leading to psychosis in adolescents. I feel hopeful that the next ten years will bring some concrete answers for parents who have suffering children.

I was able to find some informative not-too-sciency articles for learning about childhood psychosis and schizophrenia, especially from EPI in Canada. This advice for how to spot signs of onset of psychosis in teens is just awesome. This page also has some cool how-to notice and cope ideas.

I feel like we are in an era of psych recovery and support that's similar to how cancer and diabetes recovery and support was in the 1960s. I remember that kids back then with cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and epilepsy were sent away from the general school population. When I asked my parents why that happened they didn't have any answers that made sense, and I believe that's because there weren't any.

Okay, back on track again ~~~

My friend Becky - who is a leader in peer support practices at my local BHO where we both volunteer - developed psychosis after an ischemic stroke and resulting UTI that was missed for several weeks, during which time she was hospitalized for schizophrenia. She was eventually correctly diagnosed by a urologist, and doesn't have schizophrenia. But since then she's made it her life's mission to help people live through, and with, psychosis symptoms. It's from her that I learned about Hearing Voices Peer Groups and that most people who live with psychosis develop coping techniques go get through their days just like people with diabetes or arthritis. 

From another friend who's a manager at the same BHO as Becky I learned about the growing "Consumer Movement" that basically means it-takes-one-to-help-one. Peer mentorship been proven effective for cancer survivors, alcoholics and their families, in grief recovery, among veterans with PTSD... just do an internet search for peer support and you'll see what I mean.

With the new medical tests for "mental illness" becoming available to psychiatric physicians and clinicians - maybe we can finally get some concrete answers to sort out the historic confusion on kids and psychosis. I would like to know why psychosis symptoms rarely show up before age 12.... huh, puberty hormones maybe? Access to junk food?


The good news is that wellness practices help mental and emotional distress just like with any other health challenge. Below are my favorite places to find FREE resources and support:

Depression Bipolar Support Alliance - just search "psychosis" on the page and you'll find lots of cool resources. There's a good section for parents there.

Active Minds is a youth-centric organization that I just love for too many reasons to list.

SZ magazine isn't geared toward kids, but it does have lots of great info on living well with psychosis. As far as I know it's the only publication for regular people on the topic.

NAMI and Ps are both places for family members with loved ones who live with psychosis illness to find support. Anyone who lives with a mental illness, even mild anxiety for instance, can join NAMI for a low fee - I think it's $5 per year. It comes with access to all of their online resources and an excellent quarterly magazine.

Cognitive Therapy Apps are cool for the whole family to play with and discuss. I have used several of the Excel at Life apps over the years and liked them - but I'm nearing 60 so I wouldn't presume.

Breathing helps calm anxiety, having a purpose develops hopefulness, and self-compassion is valuable learnable skill.

AFSP has online, phone, video conferencing, and in person support for families and individuals who are worried about the safety of themselves or a loved one.


Some other curiosities on the web that I find intriguing:

Avatar Therapy, Northern Finland Open Dialogue Project, Healing Homes of Sweden.


A personal aside: I - of course - made observations of my dad's ongoing struggles with catatonia and psychosis during my lifetime until his death when I was 38 years old. I have also lived through 4 periods of psychotic depression - after the births of my two children at ages 25 and 27, and twice with situational depressions at ages 36 and 56. What surprises me about these experiences is how real it feels to the sufferer. It's a physical visceral experience that is not just a matter of the mind or emotions.



Erica Kitzman