Psychosis is a condition in which a person loses touch with reality. If a teen has psychosis, they might hear or see things that aren’t there. Psychosis can be a symptom of an illness called schizophrenia, or less commonly can be a symptom of bipolar disorder, depression, or even (rarely) post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can also occur due to substance use, or in rare cases, be caused by a medical issue. Usually, psychosis first appears in late adolescence or early adulthood.
Early (“prodromal”) symptoms of psychosis in children and teenagers can include:
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Feeling suspicious of others
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- Less concern with appearance, clothes or hygiene
- Difficulty organizing thoughts or speech
- Loss of usual interest in activities or of motivation and energy
- Development of unusual ideas or behaviors
- Unusual perceptions, such as visions or hearing voices (or even seeing shadows)
- Feeling like things are unreal
- Change in personality
- Feelings of grandiosity (belief they have a superpower, etc.)
Since psychotic symptoms cause problems in everything from school to friendships to family, early intervention and treatment are important. If you’re worried your teen is experiencing psychosis, the first step is to call your family doctor/medical provider or pediatrician. They can help to rule out substance use or medical causes and provide referrals to qualified mental/behavioral health treatment providers in your area.
Treatment for psychosis can help teens and their families manage and reduce symptoms, and may include psycho-education, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with a qualified mental health provider experienced with psychosis, lifestyle adjustments, group therapy, and stress reduction.
Visit the link below to read more about psychosis in children and adolescents and find resources and treatment info from the Child Mind Institute: