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Fact Sheet: Early Warning Signs of Psychosis

Typically, a person will show changes in his or her behaviors before psychosis develops. The list below includes several warning signs of psychosis.

  • Worrisome drop in grades or job performance
  • New trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Suspiciousness, paranoid ideas or uneasiness with others
  • Withdrawing socially, spending a lot more time alone than usual
  • Unusual, overly intense new ideas, strange feelings or having no feelings at all
  • Decline in self-care or personal hygiene
  • Difficulty telling reality from fantasy
  • Confused speech or trouble communicating

Any one of these items by itself may not be significant, but someone with several of the items on the list should consult a mental health professional. A qualified psychologist, a psychiatrist or a trained social worker will be able to make a diagnosis and help develop a treatment plan.

If you notice these changes in behavior and they begin to intensify or do not go away, it is important to seek help. Early treatment of psychosis increases the chance of a successful recovery.

Last reviewed: January 2016

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Mental Health

NIH Publication No. OM 16-4305