What to Look For

Psychosis usually develops over a period of time. Sudden onset can happen but is uncommon. Psychosis often begins with new unusual thoughts or perceptual experiences, changes in feelings or in usual patterns of behaviour that later develop into more intense and often distressing experiences.

Click on the boxes in the image below to learn more about the early symptoms of psychosis. The symptoms listed are ones that emerge when a person first starts to experience mental health challenges and there may be other symptoms that appear later.

Behaviours: Make changes that concern your family or friends; they say you're not your usual self. Engage in reckless behaviours that can bring harm.
Feelings: Feel or show less emotion that you used to.
Physical Signs: Hear voices when there's no one around. Are very sensitive to sounds, lights or colors. Go days with little or no sleep but feel totally energized.
Thoughts: Can't think straight; thoughts are all jumbled and confusing. Believe you have special superhuman powers. Think others are spying, watching, following or plotting to harm you. Find hidden messages for you on TV, radio or the internet. Develop and intense interest in the occult or religion that is unusual for you and your family.

Having these experiences doesn't automatically mean you have psychosis. Many of these changes are not unique to psychosis. They may be the result of many things including other types of mental health problems, drug use, a medical problem, or a temporary reaction to stress.

Not everyone experiences the same set of symptoms or to the same level. A person may be diagnosed with psychosis when symptoms persist, are distressing and interfere in a person’s life.

Being able to spot these symptoms and taking action can prevent problems from getting worse.

Concerned About a Friend?

Often friends notice changes that may signal an emerging mental health challenge. For information on how to support a friend, visit Supporting your friend through tough times.