What is Psychosis?
The word psychosis is used to describe symptoms that affect a person’s beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Psychosis can cause someone to misinterpret or confuse what is going on around them. For example, a person who is experiencing psychosis may hear voices when alone but the voice is heard internally and so is very real to him/her. When someone
becomes unwell in this way it is called a psychotic episode. An episode is a period of time when someone is having symptoms of psychosis that interferes with normal day to day life. Psychosis is most likely to occur in late adolescence or in the early adult years. Psychosis can be treated and most people make significant improvement and others a full recovery from the experience.
early warning signs Descriptions - It is different for different people and someone may have a range of symptoms or just one. Some of the symptoms of psychosis are listed below:
Confused Thinking

Everyday thoughts become confused or don’t join up properly making sentences unclear or hard to understand. A person may have difficulty concentrating, following a conversation or remembering things. Thoughts can seem to speed up or slow down.

False Beliefs

It is common for a person experiencing a psychotic episode to hold false beliefs, known as delusions. The person is so convinced of the delusion that the most logical argument cannot change their mind. For example, someone may be convinced from the way cars are parked outside their house that the house is being watched by the police.


In psychosis a person can see, hear, feel, smell or taste something that is not actually there. For example, hearing voices that no one else can hear, or seeing things that aren’t there. Things may taste or smell as if they are bad or even poisoned.

Changed Feelings

How someone feels may change for no obvious reason. They may feel strange, and cut off from the world with everything moving in slow motion. Mood swings are common and they may feel unusually excited or depressed. A person may seem to feel less or show less emotion to those around them.

Changed Behavior

A person with psychosis may behave differently from usual. A person may be extremely active or have difficulty getting the energy to do things. He/she may laugh when things don’t seem funny or become angry or upset without apparent cause. Often, changes in behaviour are associated with the symptoms already described above. For example, someone who believes he is Jesus Christ may spend the day preaching in the streets or may stop eating because of concern that food is poisoned, or have trouble sleeping because of being scared of something.

  • Worrying about what others are thinking
  • Thinking others wish to harm you in some way
  • Watching others with suspicion
  • Feeling fearful or uneasy around people


Social withdrawal
  • Spending more time alone
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Avoiding groups



These symptoms could be signs of many things, including adolescent behavior. Early intervention increases the chance of a successful recovery and so it is important to address changes in one’s thoughts, behaviors, moods and perceptions. If you are experiencing some of these early warning signs please contact us immediately 1-925-681-4450.

What can you do as a young person who may be at-risk for developing psychosis?

Try to be calm and Try to seek help as soon as possible.
Tell someone you trust such as a parent, teacher or friend if you are having some strange experiences you cannot explain. Treatment for psychosis is available and the earlier you seek help then the better the outcome and the quicker the recovery.
It may be helpful to get assistance from someone you trust so that the situation around you remains as safe and secure as possible. This may mean getting help to pay bills/rent and getting assistance to get to appointments, as people who are experiencing psychosis sometimes find it more difficult to be organized.
If you are expressing thoughts of harming yourselve then call your local mental health service, or hospital so that you receive urgent specialist mental health support. 800.273.TALK / 800.SUICIDE. 888.628.9454 (Español) Youth 1.800.833.2900
Most doctors and mental health clinicians at your local mental health service know a lot about the early signs of psychosis and will be able to help you get treatment if it’s needed. Treatment for psychosis can involve the use of medication, education about psychosis, counselling, family support and practical support (such as helping a young person get back to school or work). There are ways of trying to prevent symptoms of psychosis returning such as not using drugs, reducing stress and adopting good ways of coping with stress. A counsellor, GP or mental health clinician can provide you with some tips on how to get better at coping with stress.
CONTACT FIRST HOPE 1-925-681-4450. First Hope is an innovative treatment program that provides comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services for Contra Costa County adolescents and young adults. We serve residents between the ages of 12 and 25, who are having significant psychological symptoms and a decrease in usual functioning, suggesting they may be at risk for developing psychosis. This period of time is referred to as “Clinical High Risk (CHR)”. We provide psychosocial intervention, supported education and employment, case management services and targeted medications, with the goals of early diagnosis, treatment, and disability prevention.

Our Experiences

What can be expected?

The recovery process will vary from person to person in terms of duration and degree of functional improvement. Some people will recover from their ecperiences very quickly and be ready to return to their life and responsibilities soon after. Other individuals will need time to respond to treatment and may need to return to their responsibilities more gradually.

Recovery from the first episode usually takes a number of months. If symptoms remain or return, the recovery process may be prolonged. Some people experience a difficult period lasting months or even years before things really settle down.

Once the person has responded to treatment, problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, decreased self-esteem and social impairment need to be addressed during the recovery phase.

Getting back to school

It is important to set realistic goals for returning to school. Reviewing previous academic records and accomplishments is a starting point. Choosing classes and activities that enhance the person's skills and interests can also be a way to help ease the process.

The person and/or family should meet with the school counsellor or academic advisor to discuss recovery, as well as, spend time educating them about psychosis and how it has impacted the person's abilities. Having a note from the doctor, or perhaps giving written permission for the teacher/counsellor to talk to the person's clinician or doctor would help.

Sometimes it is best for a friend or family member to accompany the person for the first little while, as they make the adjustment.

Returning to work

It is important to set realistic goals for returning to work. Perhaps starting back part-time would be one way of easing into it. For some, volunteer work is a good first step.

Knowledge helps to reduce stigma. Educating the employer and the staff about the experience and the recovery is important. Practicing what to say and having a doctor's note will help, or perhaps having a professional (like a counsellor) come in would be the right way to go.