Psychosis is a medical term that describes a group of mental health problems that share common symptoms, the onset usually occurring in young people (80%, aged 16-30).

The symptoms of psychosis are many and varied and can change over time.

Early signs of psychosis may include:

  • withdrawal and loss of interest in usual activities
  • loss of energy or motivation
  • problems with memory and concentration
  • deterioration in work or study
  • lack of emotional response or inappropriate emotional display
  • sleep or appetite disturbances
  • unusual ideas or behaviours
  • feeling ‘changed’ in some way

These signs can indicate many things, particularly when exhibited during adolescence or young adulthood, but if they persist they may indicate psychosis or risk of psychosis.

More definite signs of psychosis may include:

  • Unusual perceptual experiences
 The most common of these is auditory hallucinations (e.g. hearing voices when there is no one present). People sometimes experience other hallucinations, such as visual (seeing things that are not really there), as well as hallucinations relating to smell, taste and touch.
  • Unusual or bizarre beliefs that are out of character for the individual and are unlikely to have grounds in reality.
  • Problems with thinking
 The person may have difficulty concentrating, following a conversation or remembering things. Thoughts seem to speed up or slow down, or stop suddenly. Speech is unclear or doesn’t make sense.
  • Feeling strange and cut off from the world
 Mood swings are common and a person may feel unusually anxious, irritable, excited or depressed.

As early treatment can be particularly successful it is important to identify psychosis as soon as possible.