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Psychotic disorders are mental illnesses that are characterized by psychotic symptoms, which can generally be described as a loss of contact with reality. These types of disorders include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and schizophreniform disorder. These disorders affect a person’s ability to perceive the world and to process information. For simplicity, we will concentrate on schizophrenia in this manual. There is a wide range in severity for individuals with psychotic disorders. Some people with these types of disorders return to normal functioning with treatment; others have varying levels of disability.

Warning Signs of Psychosis

Family and friends can help people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders by learning to recognize the warning signs of psychosis. Early intervention may help slow the progress of the illness and minimize the risk of relapse and long-term effects. Although each person is unique, and no two people will experience the same symptoms, here are some common indications of psychosis:

  • Change in sleeping habits (too much or too little sleep)
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Disorganized, hard-to-understand speech, or diminished verbal interaction with others
  • Lack of emotional response
  • Decreased motivation; inability to concentrate or focus
  • Exhibiting unusual behavior, hoarding objects, or wearing strange clothing
  • Suspiciousness or hostility
  • Having strange or unbelievable ideas, such as “My parents are poisoning my food.”
  • Hallucinations

While some of these symptoms can be attributed to other causes (depression, adolescence, etc.), if you notice these warning signs, contact a mental health professional.




Schizophrenia and Brain Function


Possible Causes of Schizophrenia


Medication for Schizophrenia