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Early signs of psychosis
Psychosis refers to changes in the brain that interfere with a person’s experience of his or her world. The experience of psychosis varies greatly from person to person.
Psychotic disorders rarely emerge suddenly. Most often, the symptoms evolve and become gradually worse over a period of months or even years.
On this page
- Anyone can develop psychosis.
- Psychosis is common and treatable and affects 3 in 100 people (NIH).
- It usually occurs for the first time between the ages of 15 and 30 (NIH).
- It is equally as prevalent in both males and females.
The following are some of the more common signs of psychosis:
- Everyday thoughts may be confused/jumbled or don’t join up properly
- Sentences may be unclear or don’t make sense
- Thoughts are sped up or come very slowly
- Difficulties planning, reasoning, making decisions, completing tasks, following a conversation, remembering details
- Having odd ideas
- Shifts in basic personality
- Mood changes (i.e., hyperactivity, inactivity, or alternating between the two)
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Severe changes in sleep patterns
- Deterioration in personal hygiene
- Excessive writing without meaning
- Unusual sensitivity to stimuli (such as noise, light, colors, textures)
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Use of alcohol and/or other drugs
- Feeling strange and cut off from the world
- Feelings of distrust or suspicion about others and their actions
- Things look or sound different from what others are experiencing
- The tone in a person’s speech may change
- Facial expressions and physical movement may change
- Hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling or feeling things that are not there, but seem very real to the person experiencing them
- Hearing voices: the voices could be threatening to them or telling them to harm themselves
- False beliefs such as being followed or monitored, or having special abilities or “powers”
- Thinking they are being controlled by other people or forces, or that their thoughts are being broadcast so others can hear them
- These beliefs are often held firmly, and attempts at reasoning or debating can lead to anger or mistrust
Yes. In this 14-minute video, one parent shares her story.
Yes. If someone you know is experiencing some of these symptoms, you can get help. Research shows that the longer psychosis goes untreated, the harder it is to control.
- Talk to your doctor.
- Call the Washington Recovery Helpline at 1-866-789-1511.
- Contact New Journeys. The Health Care Authority (HCA) collaborated with the University of Washington and Washington State University to develop New Journey's, a program for first episode psychosis. New Journeys is currently available in the following areas:
Are you, or someone you know, in need of immediate help?
Video: "We can prevent major mental Illness"
Learn more about early psychosis in this 16-minute TEDxRosenburg talk by Dr. Ryan Melton, clinical director of the EASA Center for Excellence at Portland State University’s Regional Research Institute and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Mental Health at Northwest Christian University.
- UW Medicine evidence based practices for adults
- Center for Practice Innovations’ (CPI’s) consumer and family portal: A series of vignettes of consumers and family members. The videos share inspirational and informative recovery stories on a variety of topics. A manual is also available to help integrate the videos into treatment and training.
- Mindmap online psychosis quiz: A three-minute quiz for those who have concerns about psychosis.