When you hear the term “psychotic break,” you might picture someone who’s out of control and experiencing delusions, hallucinations, illogical speech and more.
But the first signs of schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses—which typically appear in people who are in their early to mid-20s—aren’t always so obvious. Because May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to take a closer look at psychotic episodes, and explain how parents play a crucial role in treatment.
“Generally, psychosis emerges fairly suddenly,” says Dr. Bryn Jessup, director of family services at Yellowbrick. “It can feel like a bolt from the blue.”
However, there are usually warning signs beforehand that a crisis may be imminent. Here are some things parents can look out for that may signal an oncoming psychotic episode:
If you think that your son or daughter may be heading down the path to having a psychotic episode, it’s important that you act quickly.
According to Jessup, people who receive treatment within three months of their first psychotic episode are twice as likely to show improvement compared to those who begin treatment later.
Unfortunately, young adults are especially sensitive to anything that might threaten or compromise their autonomy and self-worth. Keep this in mind when you raise concerns about their struggles with symptoms or behavior. Jessup says some young adults may get angry if you suggest they have difficulties that require professional attention beyond family support. “Parents can contribute to the feeling of being persecuted,” he says.
Here are the best ways parents can approach the subject of getting treatment to their son or daughter:
While a psychotic diagnosis may be initially upsetting, Jessup wants patients and families to know that treatment options have been steadily improving over the years, leading to better outcomes. “Families play a really important role in supporting a stable recovery,” he says.
Yellowbrick collaborates with adolescents and emerging adults, ages 16-30's, their families and participating professionals toward the development and implementation of a strategic “Life Plan.” An integrative, multi-specialty consultation clarifies strengths, limitations, and risks, and defines motivations, goals and choices.
A mental health condition that’s characterized by intense shifts in mood including both manic and depressive episodes.
People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.
Those living with anxiety disorders experience high levels of anxiety and stress that interfere negatively with daily life.
A mental health issue in which a person’s cognitive function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like experiencing challenges with conducting speech, reading and writing, and behavior.
Mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s behaviors, thought patterns, and function. People diagnosed with these disorders experience challenges with managing relationships and understanding various situations.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that people can develop as a result of experiencing traumatic situations, characterized by symptoms including flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and more.
A mental health condition that is characterized by specific symptoms of forgetfulness and lack of concentration, which makes it challenging to complete necessary tasks.
Mental health conditions that interfere with a person’s eating habits, thought patterns, and behaviors in negative ways.
A mental health disorder diagnosable with the DSM-5 that is characterized by both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.