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  What is psychosis?
The word psychosis describes a set of symptoms that are far more common than you might think. The best way to describe psychosis is that it's like losing touch with reality. Young people describe it as their mind playing tricks on them or having a feeling like you have taken drugs when you have not. This is because young people experiencing psychotic symptoms often have unusual thoughts, feelings and behaviours. These symptoms can include:

Confused thinking

Even the everyday thoughts, which allow us to live our lives, can become disordered and jumbled making things hard to make sense.

This is a medical word for a false belief that someone has, which the rest of his or her culture, community or family/whanau does not have.

This is when someone sees, hears, feels, smells or even tastes something that is not there.

Flat emotions
A person may not feel or react as they used to and may appear "slowed up"

A young person may think that everything is about them and that they are in danger in some way.

What are the early warning signs?

Although sometimes the symptoms come on very quickly, sometimes they follow a period in someone's life when things have not been going well. Close friends and family/whanau may notice that they;

Act a bit suspiciously
Seem to lack energy or motivation
Become moody in a way which is unlike them
Become forgetful and can not concentrate like before
Have periods of being anxious and depressed
A person may stop being into stuff they used to be into

What causes psychosis?

We don't really know this yet. We do know that people are more likely to have these symptoms if there have been other members of their family that have had them. We also know that some people seem to have their symptoms triggered at times of stress, such as problems at home, school or with friends. Using drugs and alcohol also seems to trigger these symptoms in some young people. Psychotic symptoms maybe part of disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

How many people get it?

About three in a hundred people will experience psychosis at some point, which makes it slightly more common than diabetes! Most of these will first get symptoms in their late teens and early twenties.

How is psychosis treated?

Medication can help reduce symptoms and in some cases gets rid of them altogether. Usually medication is combined with helping young people understand their symptoms and to deal with the stresses in their life, which may involve talking to a psychologist or other therapist. Helping the whole family cope with the psychosis and support in school/work stuff also helps. Whatever the approach it is important to get help as early as possible. People do recover from episodes of psychosis.

Where can I get more information?

If you are worried about yourself or a friend/family member, a good place to start is with your GP or school counsellor. The links below will take you to more in depth info about psychosis.

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