Warning Signs of Psychosis

Each individual is unique and no two individuals will have exactly the same symptoms or warning signs, but one or more warning signs are likely to be evident. These signs are particularly important if they are new or have worsened in the last year.

A referral to an EPI service (or other qualified mental health professional) is highly recommended if some of these warning signs are present.

Too often people fail to seek professional help that would allow for early intervention because they either don't recognize that something is going on or, if they do see something is wrong, they attribute it to drugs or normal teenage behaviours.

confused thinking

Perception, Thinking and Speech Changes

  • Things around them seem changed in some way
  • Rapid speech that is difficult to interrupt
  • Irrational statements
  • Extreme preoccupation with religion or with the occult (usually this is a new change in the person)
  • Peculiar use of words or odd language structures
  • Unusual sensitivity to stimuli (noise, light, colours, textures)
  • Memory problems
  • Severe distractibility
  • Reduced speech/talking

Social Changes

  • Severe decline of social relationships
  • Dropping out of activities - or out of life in general
  • Social withdrawal, isolation, reclusiveness
  • Unexpected aggression
  • Extreme suspiciousness of other people
  • Can't seem to "read" social situations or interactions very well any longer
suspicious and worried
social isolation

Emotional Changes

  • Inappropriate laughter
  • Inability to cry, or excessive crying
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Inability to express joy
  • Euphoric (elated) mood
  • Personality changes

Behavioural Changes

  • Odd or bizarre behaviour
  • Feeling refreshed after much less sleep than normal
  • Excessive writing that is difficult to understand
  • Cutting oneself; threats of self-mutilation
  • Deterioration of personal hygiene
  • Hyperactivity or inactivity, or alternating between the two
  • Staring without blinking - or blinking incessantly
  • Agitation
  • Severe sleep disturbances
  • Drug or alcohol use (This may be a coping mechanism)
  • Reckless behaviours that are out of character
  • Strange posturing or gesturing
  • Significantly decreased activity
  • Difficulties functioning at school or work
sleep disturbances

Take the “Reality Self-check” on foundrybc.ca - this is a screening tool that can help you determine if further assessment by a professional is needed. It does not provide a diagnosis and should not be relied on to rule out or confirm whether psychosis may be present.

Do not hesitate to call an EPI service or another mental health professional if you are concerned that you or someone else may be experiencing psychosis.