There are no proven treatments of any kind for children or adolescents experiencing psychosis or schizophrenia, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized comparison trials published in PLOS One.
The study was led by researchers from the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health as part of the development of guidelines for psychosis in children, adolescents and young adults.
The researchers examined randomized trials “comparing any pharmacological, psychological, or combined intervention for psychosis and schizophrenia in children, adolescents and young adults”, assessed them for bias, and evaluated them according to a variety of outcomes. They identified twenty-seven trials including 3,067 participants.
They found only “low quality” evidence that antipsychotic medications may have “small beneficial effects on psychotic symptoms.” However, they found strong evidence that these drugs caused significant weight gain and other adverse side effects.
“There were no trials of psychological treatments in under-18 year olds,” they wrote. “There was no evidence of an effect of psychological interventions on psychotic symptoms in an acute episode, or relapse rate.”
“For children, adolescents and young adults, the balance of risk and benefit of antipsychotics appears less favourable than in adults,” they concluded. “Research is needed to establish the potential for psychological treatments, alone and in combination with antipsychotics, in this population.”
Stafford, Megan R., Evan Mayo-Wilson, Christina E. Loucas, Anthony James, Chris Hollis, Max Birchwood, and Tim Kendall. “Efficacy and Safety of Pharmacological and Psychological Interventions for the Treatment of Psychosis and Schizophrenia in Children, Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Edited by Inez Myin-Germeys. PLOS ONE 10, no. 2 (February 11, 2015): e0117166. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117166. (Full text)