How to detect schizophrenia in young people?

Tristan is smoking a joint with some buddies when he begins to lose his footing. He has the feeling that all the people present at the party want him badly and the impression of having understood everything in the world in a few seconds, “as if we were loading

“Cannabis can be used as a kind of medicine. It calms the anxieties that we have at the beginning of the disease, when we have different perceptions and we say to ourselves “what is happening to me?” but we dare not talk about it. These addictive behaviors can mask the onset of schizophrenia, confirms Bernard Granger. Worse still, they can make it worse. If each person is born with a different vulnerability to schizophrenia, inherited from their genes, there would also be risk factors, such as cannabis. “A young person with two parents with schizophrenia should not go too hard on cannabis”, summarizes Nicolas Rainteau.

Become aware of your illness

“One of the symptoms of this disease is the absence of awareness that one is sick. This is called anosognosia and it is almost always present, at least at the beginning, in schizophrenia, adds Bernard Granger. There may also be denial of the disorder, that is, rejection of the diagnosis. The care then turns out to be complicated and it is often during an acute episode leading to hospitalization that the patient becomes aware that he is suffering from a psychotic disorder.

According to Bénédicte Chenu, some young people even hide their symptoms. “My son didn’t tell me he was hearing voices. I think he was afraid of coming across as crazy because the word schizophrenia has a lot of connotations. But schizophrenia is not madness. My son reasons, he sees his friends, goes on his appointments. He just has a different perception. “For Nicolas Rainteau, “by dint of talking about psychiatry as the domain of the mad and the dangerous, patients are afraid and hesitate to consult. »

A de-stigmatization to put in place

It is also because of this stigma that the diagnosis is not easy to announce. “Making a diagnosis is not nothing. So we are always very careful,” confirms Nicolas Rainteau. Bénédicte Chenu acknowledges that she was “lucky” to consult a child psychiatrist who made the diagnosis positively. “It was hard for me because I had this stigma around the disease. But he announced it so softly that it wasn’t too violent. »

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For Nicolas Rainteau, “raising awareness of schizophrenia cannot be done without de-stigmatization. The young psychiatrist believes that teachers, school doctors, general practitioners and parents should be trained to recognize the symptoms of schizophrenia. “There should also be education in mental health from primary school or even kindergarten. Because in schizophrenia, as in many psychic pathologies, the earlier one is diagnosed, the greater the likelihood of recovery.

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