Signs of Early Psychosis

The experience of psychosis varies greatly from person to person. Psychotic disorders rarely emerge suddenly. Most often, the symptoms evolve and become gradually worse over a period of months or even years. The following are some of the more common signs to look for:

Changes in Thinking
  • Everyday thoughts may be confused/jumbled or don’t join up properly
  • Sentences may be unclear or don’t make sense
  • Thoughts are sped up or come very slowly
  • Difficulties planning, reasoning, making decisions, completing tasks, following a conversation, remembering details
  • Having odd ideas
Changes in Behavior
  • Shifts in basic personality
  • Mood changes (i.e., hyperactivity, inactivity, or alternating between the two)
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Severe changes in sleep patterns
  • Deterioration in personal hygiene
  • Excessive writing without meaning
  • Unusual sensitivity to stimuli (such as noise, light, colors, textures)
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Use of alcohol and/or other drugs
Changes in Feelings and Perception
  • Feeling strange and cut off from the world
  • Feelings of distrust or suspicion about others and their actions
  • Things look or sound different from what others are experiencing
  • The tone in a person’s speech may change
  • Facial expressions and physical movement may change
  • Hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling or feeling things that are not there, but seem very real to the person experiencing them
  • Hearing voices: the voices could be threatening to them or telling them to harm themselves
  • False beliefs such as being followed or monitored, or having special abilities or “powers”
  • Thinking they are being controlled by other people or forces, or that their thoughts are being broadcast so others can hear them
  • These beliefs are often held firmly, and attempts at reasoning or debating can lead to anger or mistrust

There is Help

If someone you know is experiencing some of these symptoms, you can get help. Research shows that the longer psychosis goes untreated, the harder it is to control. Talk to your doctor. You can also call the Washington Recovery Helpline at 1-866-789-1511 or the Behavioral Health Organization in your area.

What's New

The New Journeys Network launched two new sites in December 2016!

The University of Washington’s Division of Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy (PBHJP), along with the state DSHS Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery - DBHR are excited to announce they’ve added two new Demonstration Sites to the New Journeys Network. New Journeys is the name for Washington’s transdisciplinary team-based approach to treating adolescents and young adults experiencing symptoms of first episode psychosis - FEP. The new pilot sites will be implemented at Valley Cities Behavioral Health Care, from the King County Behavioral Health Organization - BHO and Behavioral Health Resources, from the Thurston/Mason BHO. These new sites join Comprehensive Healthcare of Yakima, the state’s original New Journeys team established in July 2015.

The New Journeys program provides comprehensive treatment to youth and young adults who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis. Clients receive help with identifying their personal goals and needs for recovery that will allow them to succeed at their job, school, home and other areas of life.

Multidisciplinary Coordinated Care
This is accomplished through the collaborative work that the treatment team performs with the client, family, doctors, teachers, employers and other significant people in the client’s life. The collaborative work includes providing information on the client’s psychosis, and information on ways to reduce the barriers to the client successfully engaging in treatment and recovery.

The New Journeys Recovery Team includes:

Family Educations Program - FEP – the goal of the FEP is to support the family in their goal of improving the client’s situation.
Individual Resiliency Training - IRT – The IRT Clinician utilizes module-based interventions that are geared toward assisting the client in multiple areas of development.
Supportive Employment and Education - SEE – The SEE Specialist assists the client in identifying educational, work and career goals, and provides the necessary supports to assist the client.
Peer Support Specialist – Peers embody the recovery process as they have experience and knowledge on living with mental health issues and successfully recovering from them.
Case Manager – The Case Manager assists to ensure the client stays better engaged with appointments and other basic daily living needs.
Medical Prescriber (Psychiatrist) – The Psychiatrist provides psychopharmacological treatment and education to the client and the client’s family.

Core Components of the New Journeys Program:

  • Community outreach and education
  • The utilization of low-dosage medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - CBT for psychosis
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Individual Resiliency Training - IRT
  • Skills training
  • Substance Use Disorder counseling
  • Supported employment and education case management
  • Family psychoeducation
  • Primary care coordination
  • Peer Support
  • 24 hour/day and 7 day/week crisis line

For more information about the referral and intake process please visit the New Journey’s website in your area, or contact the Behavioral Health Organization for your county:

​​Comprehensive Healthcare in Yakima
Valley Cities Behavioral Healthcare in Renton
Behavioral Health Resources in Olympia

If you or someone you know is experiencing a life threatening emergency, please call 911.

For the Suicide Prevention Life Line: 1-800-273-8255, TTY Users 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)

For all other mental health crises, please call the Behavioral Health Organization crisis line for your county.

  • FREE 2-hour Online Training: QPR for Psychosis - Now Available to Mental Health Professionals, serving transition-age youth, between the ages of 15-25. Visit the QPR Information Page to learn more. 


To order FREE copies of these publications, click here

Recognizing and Helping Young People at Risk for Psychosis Booklet (22-1613)

Get Help Early - Psychosis and Young People Brochure (22-1622)

Get Help Early - Psychosis and Young People Fact Sheet (22-1624)

Early Psychosis Identification - Primary Care Provider Guide (22-1627)

Get Help Early - Psychosis and Young People Card (22-1631)

Get Help Early - Psychosis and Young People Poster (24-501)

Core Competencies Manual – Psychosis and Young People (22-1630)

Additional Resources

For You, Family, and Friends

Voices of Recovery Video Series is a series of 24 vignettes of consumers and family members. The videos share inspirational and informative recovery stories on a variety of topics. A manual is also available to help integrate the videos into treatment and training.

For Professionals

National and International Psychosis Websites