Psychotic Disorder Signs, Symptoms & Effects In Children

Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of psychotic disorders is an important part of the effort to get treatment for a child or adolescent. At Little Creek Behavioral Health in Conway, Arkansas, we’re proud to be a source of information and comprehensive care for young people ages 12-18 who have been struggling with psychotic disorders and other mental health conditions.

Understanding Psychotic Disorders

Learn about psychotic disorders

Psychotic disorders are a group of diagnoses that cause changes in a child’s perception, or how they see and understand the world. Examples of psychotic diagnoses include schizophrenia, schizotypal personality disorder, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, and brief psychotic disorder. While psychotic disorders may cause similar symptoms, each of these mental health conditions can present differently. 

Children or adolescents struggling with psychotic disorders may experience hallucinations, which are perceptions that cause a child to see or hear things that are not real. Young people facing this mental health condition may live with delusions, or beliefs not rooted in reality. Psychotic disorders might also cause children to exhibit disorganized thoughts that often lead to nonsensical or rambling speech that is difficult to understand. 

Additional symptoms of psychotic disorders include abnormal motor behavior, such as a lack of meaningful movement, unpredictable aggression, or difficulty with motor planning. A young person suffering from this condition may also demonstrate negative symptoms, such as poor emotional expression or decreased motivation for simple tasks. 

Young people with other mental health conditions may display symptoms of psychotic disorders. This can occur in children with bipolar disorder, depression, and addiction. Some children can also experience psychotic symptoms as a result of a medical condition. Children or adolescents in these situations would not be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. 

If you have direct concerns about your child’s behavior, you should consult a mental health professional. Your child should then seek targeted mental health services to address a diagnosed psychotic disorder. 


Statistics about psychotic disorders

Statistical information regarding this mental health condition is difficult to obtain, as some psychotic disorders resolve shortly after a child receives care. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has recorded the following information on the prevalence of psychotic disorders in the United States: 

  • In males, psychotic disorders commonly develop in early adolescence. In females, psychotic disorders typically emerge in early and middle adulthood. 
  • Of the children and adolescents who experience a psychotic episode for the first time, 9% of young people are diagnosed with psychotic disorder. 
  • Psychotic disorders are twice as common in adolescent girls than in adolescent boys. 

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for psychotic disorders

While there are certain factors that increase a child’s chances of developing a psychotic disorder, the presence of these factors does not guarantee your child will face this condition. Young people with the following personality traits are at the highest risk of experiencing this mental health condition: 

  • A tendency of being suspicious 
  • history of a personality disorder 
  • Exposure to traumatic events 

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of psychotic disorders

Psychotic disorders have the potential to cause a range of behavioral, mental, and physical symptoms. Each child suffering from this mental health condition may experience varying warning signs, such as: 

Physical symptoms: 

  • Changes in movement, such as slowed or repetitive motions, unusual ways of walking, or difficulty with any movement 
  • Inability or refusal to complete basic self-care tasks 
  • Sleeping too much or too little 

Mental symptoms: 

  • Delusions 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Suspiciousness or paranoia 
  • Mood changes, such as irritability 
  • Suicidal thoughts 

Behavioral symptoms: 

  • Difficulty behaving according to social norms 
  • Impaired ability to communicate 
  • Withdrawal from social interactions 
  • Erratic and drastic changes from their usual behavior 
  • Self-harm or suicidal behaviors 


Effects of psychotic disorders

If unaddressed, psychotic disorders can potentially have a negative impact on many areas of a young person’s life. These adverse outcomes can cause your child to experience difficulty at home, in school, and within the community. Psychotic disorders may have a particular impact on the following areas of a child’s or adolescent’s life: 

  • Difficulty initiating or maintaining relationships and social interactions 
  • Poor ability to draw social boundaries 
  • Legal troubles 
  • Development of drug or alcohol addiction 
  • Poor performance in school 
  • Personal injury or distress due to self-harm or suicidal behaviors 

While these outcomes can drastically change your child’s life, they do not always occur. The best way to enhance your child’s well-being is to receive appropriate care for psychotic disorders. Comprehensive mental health services are key to increasing a young person’s chances of managing the symptoms they experience. 

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among children and adolescents who have psychotic disorders

Young people dealing with psychotic disorders may also be facing other mental health conditions. Children who are living with a personality disorder are at an increased risk for developing psychotic disorder. If any of the following diagnoses are untreated, this can complicate the recovery process for your child: 

  • Depression 
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Substance use disorder 
  • Personality disorder 
  • Delusional disorder 
  • Malingering and factitious disorders 

Little Creek Behavioral Health provides comprehensive mental health services to improve your child’s quality of life. Our facility provides individualized programming to address the unique mental health needs of children and adolescents so that they can live a happier, more fulfilling life.  

Marks of Quality Care
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval