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The following information was produced by Mental Health Evaluation and Community Consultation Unit (MHECCU), the contractor for the Early Psychosis Initiative (EPI) of British Columbia. MHECCU is a division of Community Psychiatry, University of British Columbia. This material also appears in other places in this website. We gratefully acknowledge their contribution to this initiative and their permission to use this material.

What is Psychosis?

The word "psychosis" is used to describe conditions that affect the mind, in which there has been some loss of contact with reality. When someone experiences symptoms of psychosis, their condition is referred to as a psychotic episode. "First episode" psychosis simply means that an individual is experiencing psychosis for the first time.
Psychosis affects an individual's thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. The manner in which it is manifested varies widely, such that two individuals experiencing psychosis may have very different symptoms. It is a component of normal human experience and of several distinct mental and physical disorders.

Who Gets Psychosis?

  • Approximately 3% of all individuals experience an episode of psychosis in their lifetime
  • Approximately 1% experience schizophrenia
  • Psychosis affects males and females equally
  • First episodes of psychosis generally develop in young people in their late teens to mid-twenties
  • Psychosis occurs across cultures and levels of socioeconomic status


  1. Premorbid Phase - The period in time prior to the onset of symptoms.

  2. Prodrome - Early signs of psychosis may occur but are frequently vague and hardly noticeable. There may be changes in the way individuals describe their feelings, thoughts, and perceptions.

    Features of the prodrome may include:

    • Reduced concentration, attention
    • Reduced drive and motivation, lack of energy
    • Depressed mood
    • Sleep disturbance
    • Anxiety
    • Social withdrawal
    • Suspiciousness
    • Deterioration in role functioning
    • Irritability

  3. Acute - Psychotic symptoms, including delusions and hallucinations, are experienced.

  4. Residual or Recovery - Psychosis is treatable and most people recover, either partially or fully.

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Vancouver/Richmond Early Psychosis Intervention Program

Vancouver, BC, V5N 5P9