Some of these early changes are not specific to psychosis. That is, many young people with these signs and symptoms may have mental health problems other than psychosis or be experiencing a temporary reaction to stress.
For those in the very early stages of a psychotic illness, however, these provide important warning signs. When several signs or symptoms occur or become more intense over time, or they occur in the context of a family history of psychotic disorders, it is particularly important to seek help early.
Early warning signs and symptoms may include:
- Social withdrawal or isolation
- Decline in functioning (at school or work, in self-care)
- Depressed mood
- Decreased motivation
- Reduced concentration
- Sleep disturbance
- Reduced emotional expression
- Problems with handling everyday stress
Psychosis can occur in a number of mental illnesses. Some possibilities include:
- Drug-induced psychosis: Using or withdrawing from drugs, especially cannabis and amphetamines, can cause psychotic symptoms that last for short or long periods
- Brief reactive psychosis: Psychotic symptoms appear suddenly after a major stress in the person's life. Recovery is often quick
- Schizophrenia: An illness in which the symptoms have continued for at least six months. Many people with schizophrenia lead happy and fulfilling lives, and many make a full recovery.
- Bipolar disorder: People can experience psychotic symptoms as part of this disorder
- Psychotic depression: Psychotic symptoms can occur in people with very severe depression
Also see NICE guidelines CG155 - Psychosis and schizophrenia in children and young people: Recognition and management.