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Understanding Psychosis


What Is Mental Illness?

Mental illness refers to chemical changes in the brain that interfere with the person's experience of their world: disrupting their thinking, feeling, moods and ability to relate to others. Psychosis is a serious form of mental illness where the person loses touch with reality. The RAP program provides early treatment for those who are at risk for psychosis.

What Is The Pre-Illness Phase?

The pre-illness phase is a stage before psychosis fully develops. This critical phase can be a period of a few days, weeks or years. Symptoms of psychosis may be quite obvious or hardly noticeable. Imagine how you feel before you get the flu. Often you just don't feel "right". You may sneeze, feel more tired than usual or have a headache. In the same way, a person may have early symptoms of mental illness, and is "at risk" of getting sick, but is not ill yet.  Getting help early gives a person a chance to have the best future possible. 

What Is Psychosis?

Psychotic illnesses include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression. A person who has a psychotic illness may have delusions, hallucinations, confused thinking and abnormal behavior. These symptoms profoundly affect a person's life. Getting help early can prevent a lifetime of pain and debilitation.

What Causes Psychosis?

Psychosis can happen to anyone, but it is most likely to happen to people for the first time between the ages of 13 and 25. It is due to chemical imbalances in the brain, leading to a disruption of brain functioning. A genetic predisposition is considered a likely cause, though other medical factors may play a role, including head injury or infection before birth. Psychosis is not caused by mistakes in parenting.

How Common Is Psychosis?

With about 3 percent of the population at risk for psychosis, the onset of psychosis is more common than the onset of diabetes in young people. With early treatment, there is a better chance of recovery.