Prodromal symptoms

Prodromal symptoms occur in the majority of patients who will develop psychosis and they can be detected by trained specialists. These are characterized by been unspecific, such as reduced sleep or mood changes. As these kind of symptoms are very undefined, a prior task is to discriminate them from other mental conditions. A trained specialist should consider family history, drug use and subtle changes in order to make a firm diagnosis. Prodromal symptoms precede psychosis and therefore, need an early detection. There is an urgent need to spot triggers of the symptoms. The symptoms can be:

  • Insomnia and other kind of sleep problems
  • Changes in mood, depressive symptoms, irritability.
  • Changes in cognitive capability, e.g. problems with memory and attention.
  • Stress and anxiety.
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Social withdrawal and isolation.
  • Paranoid symptoms, mistrust, false beliefs, sense of weirdness..
  • Impairment and changes in functionality.

Psychotic symptoms

The symptoms of psychosis are generally divided into four groups – positive, negative, cognitive and depressive symptoms.

Positive Symptoms:

These are typically delusions and hallucinations. They are so called positive because a function that should not be present is added.

  • Delusions: False beliefs which are not based on reality, for example, thinking that they are being observed, followed or that people are laughing at them, when they are not.
  • Hallucinations: These can be auditory hallucinations, such as hearing voices or sounds that aren’t there. People with psychosis can also have visual hallucinations as well as hallucinations of taste, smell, and sensation.

Other positive symptoms can be:

  • Believing that they have magical powers or a special mission or goal in life
  • Believing that they are in touch with God or the Devil
  • Believing that they are being controlled by inexplicable forces
  • Believing that things on the TV or radio are addressed to them
  • Thinking that their thoughts can be read, or thoughts are being put into their minds
  • Disorganised speech and thinking

Negative Symptoms:

  • Emotional numbness and lower intensity of experiencing emotions.
  • Social withdrawal, lack of interest.
  • Depressive-like symptoms.

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Cognitive impairment.
  • Decline in performance.
  • Difficulties at work and school.
  • Difficulties with memory.
  • Difficulties in attention and concentration.

Depressive symptoms:

  • Low mood.
  • Not being able to enjoy daily activities.
  • Feelings of hopelessness.