Children with Imaginary Friends Schizophrenia

Children with imaginary friends, schizophrenia?

In recent years, many parents have grown to accept their children's pretend or imaginary friends. In large part, this acceptance can be credited to extensive coverage in mainstream media. But, children with imaginary friends, schizophrenia?

Having an imaginary friend is widely perceived as a coping mechanism for growing pains, including loneliness, bullying, and more. Most parents and pediatricians also consider it a phase that children likely outgrow. However, could there be more to the story, such as childhood schizophrenia?

A trained psychiatrist is the best source for getting a correct diagnosis on children with imaginary friends schizophrenia. To give you an overview, let's explore some of the main telltale signs of childhood schizophrenia, and what to look out for.

Early signs of childhood schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is an acute condition characterized by having a distorted view of reality. Since it predominantly affects how the brain works, children with schizophrenia may have a hard time processing thoughts like others do.

Moreover, hallucinations and fantasies regularly come into play.

Types of childhood schizophrenia

There are at least five types of schizophrenia, each exhibiting distinct symptoms.

1. Catatonic schizophrenia

The child displays behavioral extremes, such as moving from being still and silent to relentlessly moving or impersonating those around him or her.

2. Disorganized schizophrenia

The child finds routine tasks challenging and speaks incoherently. Most disorganized schizophrenics display behaviors that are considered to be socially unacceptable.

3. Paranoid schizophrenia

Obsessive phobias, fixations, delusions, and hallucinations are some of the most common indicators of paranoid schizophrenia.

4. Residual schizophrenia

When someone had a previous experience with schizophrenia but have had no other reports in a while, this is known as residual schizophrenia.

5. Undifferentiated schizophrenia

Psychiatrists may find it difficult to diagnose undifferentiated schizophrenia because people with this condition display a combination of all four types of schizophrenia.


For individuals with a family history of schizophrenia, there are a few early signs to watch out for. These include developmental delays, such as deferrals in speech, crawling, and walking. The infant child with schizophrenia may also move excessively or not move at all. Childhood schizophrenia is sometimes misdiagnosed as an autism spectrum disorder due to the similarities in symptoms.

Grade school and teens

For older children in grade school, some of the warning signs of schizophrenia include:

  • Anti-Social Behaviors
  • Poor Academic Performance
  • Lack Of Hygiene
  • Difficulty Making Eye Contact
  • The Inability To Articulate Properly
  • An Absence Of Emotion
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Poor Appetite
  • Anxieties and Delusions

The main causes of childhood schizophrenia

As can be seen, childhood schizophrenia can have a significant negative impact on a child's physical and mental health. Even though health professionals understand symptoms and treatments well, no one really knows for sure what the causes are.

However, researchers do know that in children specifically, there are some common detonators that affect progression.

Common detonators affecting progression include:

  • Genetics or Family History
  • Physical or Mental Abuse
  • Environmental Factors

Brain chemistry and childhood schizophrenia

More research is also being conducted to confirm the correlation between dopamine and glutamate. These neurotransmitters are well studied to amplify the risk of childhood schizophrenia.

Diagnosis during childhood

While the symptoms of adult and childhood schizophrenia are similar for the most part, it's very rare for a child to be diagnosed with this mental disorder. One reason is that schizophrenia typically progresses over time.

Treatments for childhood schizophrenia

If a pediatrician suspects childhood schizophrenia, he or she will be referred to a psychiatric specialist. After a diagnosis, the psychiatrist usually prescribes anti-tremor and psychotic drugs.

Treating teens with schizophrenia

In older children, coming to terms with a schizophrenic diagnosis can be hard due to the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. As a result, a family intervention may be required.

Today, treatments for schizophrenia aren't ruled by strict norms as they used to be. Instead of lengthy and traumatizing hospital stays, teens with schizophrenia may opt instead to participate in an assertive community treatment (ACT). In this program, teens meet with health experts and counselors on a regular basis to check in on how well the disorder is being managed. Psychiatrists may also recommend a series of therapies including cognitive-behavioral therapies from the comfort of home or a mutually agreed upon location.

In extreme cases of childhood schizophrenia, however, hospitalization is usually the standard of choice to keep patients and those around them safe. Hospitalization for childhood schizophrenia also integrates food, daily care, and sleep interventions in order to help keep patients healthy.

Last Reviewed:
August 30, 2017
Last Updated:
October 06, 2017