Many studies have shown that there is often a delay of months or even years between the onset of psychotic symptoms and the start of appropriate treatment. This delay is called the Duration of Untreated Psychosis or DUP.
Treating psychosis as early as possible after symptoms have appeared is important because research indicates that a shorter duration of untreated psychosis is associated with a better response to treatment and increases the likelihood of a good recovery. A prolonged delay in getting treatment may result in poorer symptomatic and functional recovery.
The first five years after onset appears to be a critical period in which the symptoms are more responsive to treatment. In addition, if left untreated for a long time, psychosis can impact many areas of a person’s life.
Other important reasons to intervene early
- The ability to think and feel, succeed at school or work and enjoy satisfying relationships with family and friends can be seriously affected by psychosis.
- Additional problems can arise such as social isolation, involvement with drugs or the criminal justice system, depression or other mental health problems and even suicide. Early intervention seeks to minimize the development of these additional problems.
- People experiencing psychosis may be in tremendous distress and may engage in actions that are dangerous to themselves or others. Early intervention reduces the amount of time someone is suffering or at risk for harm to self or others.
- Psychosis is very disruptive to the development of teens and young adults who are becoming independent, clarifying values, pursuing vocational goals, developing sexually and socially, etc. Early intervention enables them to get back on their developmental track.