Most mental illnesses begin in adolescence or early adulthood and early intervention offers the best chance of recovery and a full and productive life. If you have experienced your first episode of losing contact with reality, it’s vital that you are referred to the Early Intervention in Psychosis team for assessment as early as possible – ideally within two weeks. You will have a relaxed appointment with a dedicated care coordinator, who will put you at ease, find out more about your symptoms and explain the condition and treatments available. If you have not been referred, you should visit your GP, social worker or carer and ask about the Early Intervention in Psychosis service.
You will have someone by your side, who is on your side. You’ll meet with a health professional regularly, receive help or support with finding work, and meet other people in a similar situation at social events.
Yes. A psychiatrist will help to monitor your symptoms.
Your care coordinator will meet you somewhere you feel comfortable and at ease. You will meet every one to two weeks, depending on your needs.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy, proven to help treat a range of emotional and physical conditions. CBT looks at how we think about a situation and how this affects the way we act. In turn, our actions can affect how we think and feel. The way our body feels is linked to our emotions and our thoughts.
The cognitive model, developed by Aaron Beck, suggests emotions and behaviours are influenced by our perception of events. The model assumes that it isn’t an event or situation that controls how we feel – but our interpretation of it the meaning of a situation that determines our emotional and behavioural response. Your CBT therapist will help you notice unhelpful thoughts or behaviours and work with you to see how these can be changed.
The Early Intervention in Psychosis service will help you to identify coping strategies to help you better manage how you think and feel – today and in the future. The teams will tailor a care plan for you to help you in all aspects of your life, including helping you to re-engage with work or your social life.
Having depression and anxiety does not mean you have psychosis. However, they can be among the symptoms experienced by people who have been diagnosed with psychosis.
This varies depending on each person, but generally once you’re under the care of the Early Intervention in Psychosis team for three years.
Medication can help to manage the symptoms of psychosis. There are several medications you might be given, these include:
Anti-psychotics – these reduce psychotic symptoms and can also help to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. They affect the chemicals that brain cells use to communicate with each other, called neurotransmitters. They can be taken as tablets or as an injection called a depot given every two to four weeks. Depots release the medication slowly over time, so you don’t have to remember to take a tablet every day.
There are many different types of anti-psychotic medication and these all have different side-effects and work slightly differently. You and your psychiatrist will work together to find a medication that helps reduce your symptoms and that doesn’t cause you troubling side effects. Sometimes this means having to trial one or two different medications before the right one is found.
Anti-depressants – As well as experiencing psychosis, you might also have low mood at times. If this is the case then anti-depressants might be used. These also work on neurotransmitters to relieve the symptoms of persistent low mood. It is important to tell your care coordinator or psychiatrist about your mood so that if it is low, they can help to find the right support for you, which may well include an anti-depressant.
Anti-anxiety medication – anxiety is a common problem for people who experience psychosis. For most people, the combination of treatment with anti-psychotic medication and engaging with talking therapy helps to reduce and stop anxiety. In some cases, your anxiety may continue to be bad and at such times an anti-anxiety medication might be used, alongside your anti-psychotic medication, to help you to feel less anxious.
If you would like to learn more about medications, please visit the Choice and Medication website.
You may be offered individual Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which involves one-to-one meetings with a therapist on a weekly or fortnightly basis. The length of your therapy is flexible, depending on what you are going through, and is typically six to nine months. However, it can be shorter than this. Therapy is a confidential space where you’ll be able to work on any emotional and psychological problems you are experiencing; find new ways to cope, manage and move forward in your life; and set goals for the sessions. If you are interested in receiving this then please let your care coordinator know.
We also keep a close eye on your physical health and the effects of your medication through regular health checks for problems such as weight gain, diabetes, heart, lung or breathing problems. At least once a year we will take your weight, waist, pulse and blood pressure measurements and do blood tests, as well as reviewing your smoking, alcohol use and exercise habits. We run physical wellbeing clinics and provide home visiting services if you find it hard to get to clinics.
The average age for a first episode of psychosis is 22 years of age, but it can happen at any time. The EIP service works will people between the ages of 14 and 65.
A range of different professionals might refer you to for an EIP care plan, including your doctor, teacher, justice system or social care worker.
There’s an equal split between men and women affected by psychosis.
No. Someone with psychosis has a short-term (acute) condition that, if treated, can often lead to a full and complete life.
A psychopath is someone with an anti-social personality disorder, which means they lack empathy, are manipulative and often have a total disregard for the consequences of their actions. They can sometimes pose a threat to others because they can be violent.
Most people with psychosis are more likely to harm themselves than others. One of our aims is to educate people about this and remove the stigma associated with a diagnosis of psychosis.
Psychosis affects 1-3% of the population.
Everybody’s journey to recovery is very different. However, research shows that the earlier you can access an Early Intervention in Psychosis team, and its range of support and treatments, the quicker you are likely to be able to get back on track.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterized by periods of psychosis. An individual must experience psychotic symptoms for at least six months to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. However, a person may experience psychosis and never be diagnosed with schizophrenia. This is because there are so many different causes of psychosis.
Postnatal psychosis is distinct from first episode psychosis and is a severe form of postnatal depression, a type of depression some women experience after having a baby. It’s estimated postnatal psychosis affects around 1 in every 1,000 women who give birth. It most commonly occurs during the first few weeks after having a baby. Postnatal psychosis is more likely to affect women who already have a mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. It is not treated under the Early Intervention in Psychosis team.
Postnatal psychosis is a serious mental illness that should be treated as a medical emergency. If not treated immediately, you can get rapidly worse and could neglect or harm your baby or yourself. Go to A&E or call 999 if you think you, or someone you know, may be in danger of imminent harm.