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Signs of Psychosis

Note: These symptoms are not necessarily present all the time. This list should not be used to diagnose yourself or someone else. This is intended only to provide general information. If you think you might be experiencing a mental illness, you should see your doctor for an accurate assessment and treatment plan.


Signs of psychosis can include:

  • Becoming overly suspicious of other people without a good reason

  • Hearing voices when there's no one around

  • Believing in unusual, unlikely things like special superhuman powers

  • Having trouble concentrating, completing tasks and being organized

  • A noticeable difference in the ability to complete school or work tasks

  • A decline in personal grooming and hygiene

  • Changing sleep habits – either sleeping too much or not being able to sleep at all

  • Unclear thinking patterns and disorganized self-expression

These experiences often go hand in hand with other changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Remember that these experiences may instead be the result of many things, including other types of mental health problems, drug use*, medical problems or even a temporary reaction to being stressed out.

*Recent research does show a link between psychosis in young people and marijuana use. You can visit “Here to Help” in Canada online and check out the fact sheet on cannabis and psychosis for more information.


Psychosis is not:

  • Caused by bad parenting or poverty
  • The result of any personal failure of the individual
  • A split personality
  • A cause for shame or blame

When young people have a hard time managing their lives, symptoms can take various forms. Anxiety, depression and substance use can often be signs of difficulty coping, but might also be symptoms of psychosis.


Getting help

Seek emergency help immediately if you are having suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of harming yourself or others.

You should also seek help right away if you:

  • Have trouble with alcohol or drug use, or have other mental health concerns

  • Think your symptoms could be linked to a physical health problem

  • Are experiencing prolonged trouble sleeping

  • Feel as though normal life stresses don’t explain your symptoms

Try to talk to someone about how you feel. Sharing concerns with someone you trust can help keep you safe and direct you to medical help if necessary. Think about talking to:

  • A parent or other family member

  • Your school guidance counsellor

  • Medical personnel, such as your doctor or a nurse at a clinic, band office or nursing station

  • Staff at a teen clinic