Teen Schizophrenia Treatment

Teens with Schizophrenia generally present with symptoms that include hallucinations and incredibly strong delusions. This mental health disorder alters a person’s ability to recognize reality. As a result, teens can present as a danger, to others or to themselves, and cease having the ability to function like a normal adolescent.

What Does Schizophrenia Look Like?

  • Teens with Schizophrenia are often delusional. It doesn’t matter how many people show them proof or tell them that their beliefs are wrong. They hold steadfast to their feelings and beliefs.
  • Schizophrenia causes teens to hallucinate. The most common form of hallucination is hearing voices, but they may also think they see, smell, or even hear things that aren’t there as well. They often think the voices are telling them things and they interact with them as though they are real.
  • Teens with Schizophrenia often present as having “thought disorders.” This means they are not capable of putting thoughts and words together, resulting in unclear or jumbled attempts to communicate. They may also lose their train of thought often mid-sentence.
  • Teens with Schizophrenia may also have a “movement disorder,” resulting in agitation, repetition, sudden and short movements, or even no movement at all. This may manifest as twitching, “ticks,” or even catatonia.

Signs of Teen Schizophrenia

Nonexistent hygiene habits

Nonexistent hygiene habits



Mood shifts

Mood shifts



Isolation or withdrawal

Isolation or withdrawal

Sleep disturbances

Sleep disturbances

The Different Types of Schizophrenia

Disorganized Schizophrenia - Teens with this form of Schizophrenia tend to be emotionally unstable and have disorganized thought patterns. They lack strong personal hygiene habits. They may still hallucinate or be delusional, but those symptoms are not as severe in this case.

Catatonic Schizophrenia - Teens who are catatonic may not move at all, with no response to stimuli, or they may move excessively and in strange manners. They present with jerky motions, contort their faces, and attempt to mimic what other people are doing.

Paranoid Schizophrenia - Teens with paranoid Schizophrenia have strong delusions and are very likely to hallucinate. They believe there are forces plotting against them. As a result, they act defensive, stop trusting people, and become difficult to deal with as they struggle with mounting anxiety. This form of Schizophrenia is more common than the others.

Undifferentiated Schizophrenia - It is possible for teens to present with traits from each of the other three categories. Sometimes Schizophrenia is viewed as having a spectrum, so teens may have a mixture of symptoms that don’t necessarily classify them as one subtype or the other.

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Teen Schizophrenia Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco

What Causes Schizophrenia?

No one is really sure what causes Schizophrenia to develop. Certain risk factors may help doctors explain why your teen was susceptible.

Brain chemistry - Sometimes the chemicals, or neurotransmitters, responsible for sending messages between cells become flawed. The inability of the cells to properly move and function leads to a series of psychological side effects. Schizophrenia may be one of them.

Genetics - A child has a 30 to 40 percent chance of developing Schizophrenia if both parents also suffer from any form of the same condition. Family history may not be the only reason for development, but it will be one of the main reasons, if not the only reason.

Environmental factors - Traumatic experiences are commonly identified as triggered for the type of psychotic break that can lead to Schizophrenia or other mental health disorders. Malnutrition in the womb, a traumatic birth, and even exposure to certain viral diseases can trigger the condition as well.


Americans have Schizophrenia.


percent of Schizophrenia cases are influenced by genetics.


the most common age spectrum for Schizophrenia diagnosis.

How Can I Help My Teen with Schizophrenia?

There is nothing easy about living with someone struggling with Schizophrenia. The symptoms are incredibly severe and tough to watch. Your teen needs you, though. They need your guidance and your support as they struggle to merely survive day-to-day. Each teen’s situation is different, but there are things you can do.

Educate yourself - The more you know about Schizophrenia, the better. Better understanding this chronic condition and the intense flare-ups or “breaks” that come with it will give you a better idea of exactly what you need to do to keep your teen safe. Teens with Schizophrenia are not in a constant state of hallucination or delusion, so learning to understand the symptoms will help you to recognize when your teen is having trouble.

Look for training programs - Therapy and medication are helpful for treating Schizophrenia and most teens will be able to be functional members of society. That said, specialized social skills and academic programs are available to prepare teens to do well in school or in work later on. There are vocational rehab programs as well as supported employment opportunities designed to help teens develop job skills. They’ll also teach teens to rely on their newly-formed support systems during flare-ups.

Partner with the therapist - Family therapy sessions can be immensely helpful, especially if paired with your teen’s individual therapy sessions. Your teen’s therapist can teach you to work together so that you can move forward and cope as a family.

What Types of Teen Schizophrenia Treatment Are Available?

Your teen needs to feel as though they’re being treated as a whole person. This condition infiltrates every aspect of a person’s life, and the list of symptoms that can be exhaustingly difficult to juggle. Therapy alone is rarely enough; teens need to know exactly what to do when they are experiencing an active flare-up. Talk therapy, group therapy, and medications are all a critical part of teen Schizophrenia treatment.


First and second-generation antipsychotics help teens control their symptoms. Medication alleviates symptoms, empowering your teen to work through other areas of therapy without feeling overwhelmed.

Antipsychotic medications are incredibly helpful, but they are not without side effects. These issues vary from person to person. It is important for you and your teen to discuss the possibility of side effects while weighing the pros and cons. As a parent, you must be familiar with contraindications so that your teen isn’t taking other medications that may interfere. There are even certain nutritional supplements and vitamins your teen should avoid.

Talk Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and other therapeutic strategies act as guidelines for effective talk therapy. Your teen and their therapist will work together to unearth their symptoms, who they are, and what they are experiencing to recognize the illness and what symptoms come with it.

Therapy also helps teens learn to become active in everyday life again, encouraging them to go back to their favorite activities and build stronger relationships while utilizing stronger mechanisms to cope with their symptoms. Life is challenging, even for the average healthy teen. It is even more so for a teen with Schizophrenia. They need help finding their way.

Therapy sessions will focus on working around anxiety and breaking away from negative thought patterns. Your teen will also work on regaining their confidence so they can eventually support themselves and succeed in the outside world.

Family Therapy

Schizophrenia has a huge impact on the entire family. Family therapy sessions offer an open place where the entire family can talk about and work through their experiences.

Teen Schizophrenia Treatment at Paradigm San Francisco

Paradigm San Francisco is tucked away in a quiet natural environment surrounded by nature just a short distance away from the San Rafael Bay. Our residency programs are safe, open, and welcoming environments where teens can relax and feel comfortable as they work to adjust to their diagnosis and learn to live with Schizophrenia.

Dedicated Treatment

It’s not easy to cope with a Schizophrenia diagnosis. Many teens are worried about the future and aren’t sure how they are going to handle school, home, and even future work responsibilities. Some may fear a “disabled” diagnoses that precludes them from living a normal, healthy life, but in most cases, Schizophrenia isn’t a life sentence. Our treatment programs are designed to give them hope for a brighter future. They will learn to focus on feeling better, managing their symptoms, and creating plans to flourish and grow.

Improved Interactions

The therapy sessions at Paradigm San Francisco are handled both privately and in small groups, which can be extremely beneficial to Schizophrenic teens. They will learn to learn to interact with others through carefully facilitated group sessions. This allows them to practice social skills, eliminate awkwardness, learn how to be a good friend, and build a strong support system for the future.

“ When I first went into Paradigm, I believed that showing emotion was a sign of weakness, but quickly learned that it is truly a sign of courage and strength. I was extremely lucky to have Rob, Jay, Jess, Shannon, and Jeff's help. Their advice and kind words have stuck with me for over two years already. Paradigm helped me make changes in my life and break several bad habits. These changes have stuck and will continue to stick for the rest of my life. The Paradigm staff is fantastic, kind, funny, and overall a group of sincerely caring people who are more than willing to listen to your life story, and offer advice if you want it. The help the staff and other teens provide will help you create a more healthy and stable lifestyle. “

– Taylor V.

Frequently Asked Questions about Teen Schizophrenia

Is residential teen treatment necessary?

It depends on how severe your teen’s disorder is and how symptoms have progressed. Residential treatment options offer an element of supervision and support, as well as a safe and controlled environment. This may be critical for teens who are delusional or hallucinating, especially if they are experiencing full-blown Psychosis. Your teen will get a handle on their symptoms while preparing to come home and manage life. This also gives the family an opportunity to regroup, participate in therapy, and better prepare to support their teen.

How will a Schizophrenia diagnosis affect my teen’s life?

No two cases of Schizophrenia are the same. There is a wide spectrum of symptoms that can range from almost ignorable to completely debilitating. How your teen’s symptoms change will dictate how difficult their future is to manage.

Anxiety and Depression are common, especially for teens with mild Schizophrenia. You’ll need to work to make sure your teen doesn’t isolate himself and become a recluse. Social interactions aren’t easy, but they’re a necessary part of life.

Believe it or not, your teen will likely feel a little bit better upon having a formal diagnosis. It’s incredibly painful to cycle through frightening symptoms without understanding why they feel that way in the first place.

With teen Schizophrenia treatment, your child can live the same healthy, enjoyable life as their peers. It will take time and treatment, but the potential to achieve their goals and maintain strong relationships is there. Their futures may not be what you planned for them when they were younger, but they have the ability to become happy, functioning adults. Your teen must choose their path; treatment will help them overcome some of the obstacles.

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