The teenage years are a crucial developmental period in an individual’s life. Teenagers often face challenges due to the physical and psychological changes that occur during adolescence. Unfortunately, some of these changes can lead to mental health issues such as psychosis.
Parents, caregivers, and medical professionals need to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors associated with teenage psychosis so they can intervene early and provide support.
Learn how you or a loved one can overcome mental illness at our residential treatment center for teens.
What is Psychosis?
Psychosis is a mental health disorder characterized by abnormal thoughts and behaviors that interfere with an individual’s sense of reality. It is usually associated with symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, a lack of motivation, and difficulty thinking and communicating. These can lead to significant distress or disruption in daily life.
People with psychosis often feel withdrawn from society, fear ridicule or judgment from others, and may be unable to participate in everyday activities due to their symptoms. Treatment typically includes medication and psychotherapy, although support systems and lifestyle adjustments may also be beneficial.
Symptoms of Teenage Psychosis
Symptoms of psychosis in teens can include:
- Hallucinations: Seeing, hearing, touching, or smelling things that are not there.
- Delusions: False beliefs that the teen believes to be true.
- Disorganized thinking: Struggling to think logically and having difficulty focusing on conversations, tasks, or activities.
- Paranoia: Feeling that someone is out to get them or believing that other people are talking about them behind their backs.
- Agitation or restlessness: Being unable to sit still or focus for a long period and displaying behaviors such as pacing, fidgeting, hand-wringing, etc.
- Social withdrawal: Refusing to go to school, avoiding social situations, or spending less time with friends and family than usual.
- Poor personal hygiene: Neglecting basic self-care such as bathing or brushing teeth/hair/nails regularly and engaging in unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking.
- Irritability: Experiencing frequent outbursts of rage and displaying hostile behavior towards others for no apparent reason; especially towards loved ones.
- Trouble sleeping/eating: Having an irregular sleep schedule due to nightmares or difficulty falling asleep. Also, eating too little or too much due to sudden changes in appetite because of medication side effects or stress related to psychosis symptoms.
- Suspiciousness: Becoming mistrustful of even close friends and family members for no clear reason; becoming suspicious of strangers easily as well because they believe everyone is out to hurt them in some way.
Causes of Teenage Psychosis
Teen mental illness, trauma, and drug use can lead to teen psychosis by increasing stress levels and decreasing cognitive functioning which can cause psychotic episodes if left untreated for long enough periods.
Mental illness can cause hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking which can lead to psychosis over time if it isn’t managed properly with treatment and medication if necessary.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD in teens) can also trigger psychotic episodes leaving teens feeling fearful and paranoid which can further fuel further psychotic behavior like risky behaviors associated with substance abuse.
Drugs can also increase psychological distress leading to symptoms related to psychosis such as incoherent speech patterns, changes in emotions, intense fearfulness, social isolation, etc.
All these factors combined can create a recipe for teen psychosis if left unchecked by adults who are knowledgeable about the warning signs and how best to help teens manage these symptoms before they become too severe.
Psychosis as a Symptom of Psychiatric Disorders
Psychosis is a symptom of a wide range of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and certain types of depression. It is characterized by disruption in a person’s thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and behavior.
Psychiatric disorders that have psychosis as a symptom include:
- Schizophrenia: a mental disorder characterized by abnormal social behaviors, delusions, and hallucinations that can lead to impaired daily functioning. People with schizophrenia may experience hallucinations or delusions, such as believing things that aren’t real or hearing voices that don’t exist.
- Bipolar Disorder: a condition marked by episodes of mania and depression mixed with periods of normal moods. People with bipolar disorder may experience psychotic symptoms during manic episodes, including hallucinations and/or delusions. Our teen residential bipolar treatment can be a major help for young adults.
- Substance-Induced Psychosis: This is when psychotic symptoms occur secondary to the use of alcohol or drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines. This type of psychosis is generally reversible if the substance causing it is stopped.
- Major Depressive Disorder: This is a form of clinical depression associated with persistent sadness and difficulty concentrating. People experiencing major depressive disorder can also experience psychotic symptoms such as delusions and/or hallucinations.
- Delusional Disorder: a condition in which a person believes strongly in false beliefs, even though there is evidence to prove them wrong. People with delusional disorder typically have non-bizarre delusions (as opposed to schizophrenia), meaning they are plausible but unlikely scenarios (e.g., thinking someone is following them). This disorder often includes paranoia and other psychotic features like auditory hallucinations.
Psychosis can cause significant distress and impairment in functioning for the affected individual, making it difficult for them to interact socially or function normally in their day-to-day lives.
Risk Factors of Teenage Psychosis
Teen psychosis is a serious mental health condition that can affect adolescents and young adults. Risk factors for teen psychosis can include genetics, environment, substance use, and underlying neurological or physical conditions.
Genetics: Research suggests that some forms of psychosis can be inherited from family members. If a teen has a parent or close relative who has experienced psychotic symptoms, they may be at an increased risk for developing the disorder themselves.
Environment: Environmental factors such as stress, trauma, poverty, and exposure to violence can increase the risk of teen psychosis. Adolescents whose home life is unstable or abusive may be more likely to experience psychotic symptoms due to prolonged periods of high stress and anxiety.
Substance Use: Substance use disorder is strongly linked to the onset of psychotic symptoms in teens. Drug use can interfere with normal brain development and trigger hallucinations or delusions in some individuals. Substance abuse treatment for teens is essential – mainly because it is always better to sort out addiction as soon as possible.
Underlying Neurological/Physical Conditions: Certain pre-existing neurological or physical conditions may also increase the chances for adolescent psychosis; these include epilepsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, fetal alcohol syndrome, and certain genetic syndromes. Additionally, disorders like depression or anxiety can sometimes lead to psychotic episodes in young people.
Diagnosis for Teen Psychosis
Diagnosing psychosis in teens can be difficult, as the symptoms may not be obvious until they become more frequent and severe. Generally, doctors will look for signs of sudden behavioral changes, such as talking to themselves, hearing voices that others can’t hear, or showing agitated behavior. They may also look for signs of delusions or hallucinations.
If these symptoms are present and persistent over some time, a doctor may diagnose psychosis. In addition to asking about the patient’s symptoms, they may also conduct comprehensive evaluations to rule out any other possible causes for the behaviors that could be causing them.
Coping With Teenage Psychosis
Teenage psychosis is a complex and often frightening medical condition that affects adolescents. While it can be challenging to diagnose, there are effective treatments available that can reduce symptoms and help teens manage their mental health issues.
Antipsychotics are the primary medication used to treat teenage psychosis. These drugs work by decreasing abnormal brain activity. Common antipsychotics include Risperidone, Olanzapine, Quetiapine, and Clozapine. Side effects of these medications can include weight gain, sleepiness, dry mouth, and movement problems.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT for teens) is a type of psychotherapy used to treat teenage psychosis. CBT helps teens to identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors associated with psychosis. Other forms of therapy such as family therapy can provide support for teens and their families in understanding the disorder and making lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms.
Family intervention is an important part of treating teenage psychosis. Family members should be educated on the disorder so they can provide emotional support for the teen during treatment. It is also important for family members to understand how best to handle a psychotic episode if one occurs, including using de-escalation techniques and avoiding confrontations or arguments with the teen.
Education is key in treating teenage psychosis since it can help equip teens with the skills they need to cope with their symptoms. Some educational interventions include teaching coping strategies such as mindfulness meditation or stress management techniques, providing information about psychological disorders, and teaching communication skills so teens can effectively communicate their needs and feelings to others.
By understanding what teenage psychosis is, its symptoms, and the various treatment options, parents, teachers, physicians, and mental health professionals can work together to ensure that both teens and those around them get the support they need.
Seek Treatment at Ridge RTC
At Ridge RTC, our expert team of mental health professionals is committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment to treat teens with mental illness. We use evidence-based treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and EMDR therapy, to help teens learn how to manage their symptoms and develop life skills.
Our comprehensive approach involves family members in the treatment process, creating an atmosphere of support for those affected by teenage psychosis. Our dedicated team will work closely with you to create a personalized plan that best helps you or your loved one overcome this condition.
Contact us today to start on your path to healing. We are here to make this process as easy as possible!