What does it mean to be at risk?
Certain changes in thoughts and feelings have been identified as indications of an at-risk mental state that may be experienced before the onset of a psychiatric illness. For some, the symptoms of the at-risk mental state may indicate the early stages of a psychotic disorder that will develop over time. For others, the symptoms seem to fade with time or remain mild, and no psychiatric illness develops. Only about 30% of people who experience at-risk mental state go on to develop a psychotic disorder.
Signs of psychosis risk
Signs are indicators of risk that are noticed by others. Young people at risk might begin to appear withdrawn and to lack interest in social contact. They often lose interest in activities that were formerly a source of pleasure. They may require prodding to engage in daily activities such as showering and changing clothes. They may also begin to appear less emotional or to be confused by their emotions. Sometimes a relative, friend, or teacher will notice that their appearance is odd, that they have become focused on unusual ideas, or that they have developed a sense of self-importance. These changes often accompany a decline in school or work performance.
Symptoms of psychosis risk
Young people who are at risk can experience a variety of symptoms. It is common for people at risk to have some difficulty staying focused and getting their point across in conversation. They might find themselves feeling as if they are often the center of attention, or they may even worry that other people are out to harm them. They might start to feel confused about what is real, imaginary, or dreamed. Some participants report that they have less control over their thoughts. Others say that their eyes and ears are playing tricks on them, and that they sometimes hear, see, or smell things that others do not. People who are at risk might have only one or two of these symptoms, but it is also possible to have several of them at once.