Mental Health Consult

Psychosis: Watch for sudden poor academic performance



When an adolescent presents with a history of sudden decline in academic performance, be sure to consider serious mental illness.

According to Dr. David Pickar, a psychiatrist and former (retired) director of intramural research at the National Institute of Mental Health, 90%of cases – particularly of schizophrenia – occur between the ages of 16 and 24 years.

“As a scientist, I’ve spent my career thinking about that, but for the primary care doc, if the family comes in and reports that their kid was a good student, and he’s now terrible,” first-episode psychosis should be considered, said Dr. Pickar, who produced a documentary short film describing how to recognize schizophrenia and psychosis. In this video, Dr. Pickar also explains how the use of marijuana also can precipitate psychosis in some people with a genetic predisposition to the illness.

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