The Process of Recovery

Psychosis, like other disorders, can be successfully treated. Most people make a good recovery and have their symptoms disappear. An increased understanding of psychosis has led to new interventions to help young people recover. People with psychosis can be treated in their community and if hospitalization is required, it is usually only for a brief period.

EPI programs have been developed to promote the best possible recovery for each individual who experiences their first episode of psychosis. International research over the past 20 + years continues to guide how services can help young people get back on track and lead healthy lives. The focus is on providing optimal, comprehensive intervention to individuals experiencing psychosis in an environment that supports their recovery.

EPI programs are based on a client-centred model of care which means that client's needs and involvement are central to planning and care. There is a strong 'team-work' approach. This team includes all the support people in the person's life who are essential partners. It is well known that when families are included as partners in care the recovery rates are better.

People who have experienced psychosis for the first time frequently state that their goal is to get back to resuming their life.

Recovery is a process that goes beyond reducing symptoms and involves gaining control over one's life, setting and achieving goals, developing skills and fulfilling dreams.

I currently found a new way of helping the voices and my nicotine cravings. It all started when I started going to school. The secret to my new success is concentration … Now that I have a reason to go back the work is becoming more of a challenge and easier at the same time - Pedragon, youth

Recovery may involve:

  • regaining a sense of control over the psychosis - "being able to do something about it"
  • specific lifestyle changes that support mental wellness
  • a restored sense of self - "back to being myself / feeling better about myself"
  • having the illness no longer being a dominant part of day-to-day living
  • restored social confidence - being able to talk to people and engage in relationships
  • going to school or working
  • establishing independence as young adult

Recovery is an ongoing process. During the recovery journey there will be growth and setbacks, times of change and maybe times where there seem to be little change.

It takes time to rebuild confidence and abilities after experiencing the effects of psychosis.

What does Recovery mean?
Recovery has been defined as "a deeply personal, unique process of changing one's attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills, and/or roles" and "a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even within the limitations caused by illness."

I would define recovering from psychosis as being functional, happy and productive. I feel like I have accomplished all of those. Thanks to the strong support from EPI right from the start, they have been able to help me get on the right track to overcome psychosis to quite a great extent. - Ashleigh, youth

The recovery process will vary from person to person in terms of duration and degree of functional improvement. Some people will recover from the psychosis very quickly and be ready to return to their life and responsibilities soon after. Other individuals will need time to respond to treatment and may need to return to their responsibilities more gradually.

Recovery from the first episode usually takes a number of months. If symptoms remain or return, the recovery process may be prolonged. Some people experience a difficult period lasting months or even years before things really settle down.

People in recovery may experience:

  • impatience (recovery may seem slow)
  • depression and isolation
  • social anxiety
  • lowered self-esteem
  • difficulty accepting that they have an illness
  • trouble accepting supporting and working with the treatment team

Your team can help you with any frustrations you may be experiencing. They are there with your best interests in mind.

Getting correct information about psychosis, treatment and the path to recovery is very important to both the person with symptoms as well as their support persons.

It is important to ask questions to really get a clear understanding as to what to expect from the services offered. Everyone has the right to know about their medical treatment, to have a voice and make choices for themselves.

As research shows that psychosis arises due to a combination of genetic vulnerabilities and social/environmental stressors. Although we cannot change the genetic vulnerabilities, the social/environmental elements can be influenced.

Recovery includes the concept of treating the symptoms of psychosis along with environmental stressors in order to increase the young person's ability to function in everyday life and achieve the goals they are setting out to achieve.

The best chances for recovery are when everyone works together as a team. What we do know works to improve recovery is working as a team; professionals working closely with the person and their family and support networks, finding the right medication at the right dose, and managing, decreasing or eliminating major stressors and developing a lifestyle that supports mental wellness.