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Updated : August 1, 2022 4 mins read

Psychosis | Support for families and carers

Updated : August 1, 2022 4 mins read

Article Psychosis

Psychosis is more common than you might think with around 3 in every 100 young people in Scotland experiencing it at some point.

Psychosis usually isn’t a condition in itself, but a symptom of another cause such as extreme stress or a mental health condition. An episode of psychosis can be scary and confusing for the young person experiencing it. It’s important to seek help as early as possible as early treatment can reduce the symptoms of psychosis and get your child back to living normally.

Signs your child might have psychosis

Psychosis in early childhood is rare, symptoms usually start during adolescence and early adulthood.

The three main symptoms of psychosis are:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disordered thinking

What you might see in your child:

  • Seeing or hearing things that no one else can
  • Drop in their ability to focus or concentrate
  • They might say that can see or hear someone they have recently lost
  • Thinking that people on the TV or radio are speaking to them directly
  • Seeing secret messages or connections in normal day things
  • Becoming suspicious or paranoid
  • Talking about strange or unusual things that aren’t true
  • Believing they are powerful or can control things
  • Acting in bizarre or unusual ways
  • Their speech becoming fast, difficult to understand, jumping from topic to topic
  • Incoherent talking; not making sense

Early warning signs:

Some early warning signs will only be able to be picked up on by your child however there are some early warning signs that you may be able to spot that could indicate that an episode of psychosis is likely.

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Withdrawing from friends, social activities
  • Starting to behave in unfamiliar ways
  • Self neglect
  • Being under extreme or prolonged stress

It is important to note that these early signs can indicate a wide range of causes that aren’t related to psychosis or mental health. These signs are more likely to be warning signs if your child has had previous episodes of psychosis.

How to talk to your child about psychosis

Talking to your child during an episode of psychosis:

  • Remember that what your child what they’re experiencing is very real to them. Even if they have some insight, it will feel very real
  • Don’t disagree with their delusional beliefs. Focus on what they are feeling rather than experiencing. Say things like “I understand that’s what you believe is happening…”
  • Listen and let them talk about what they’re experiencing if they find it helps
  • Try not to take things personally. If your child has become suspicious or paranoid about you or other family members it can be very upsetting.

You may notice a change in your child’s behaviour or thoughts before they talk to you about something being wrong. Talking to your child about getting help:

  • Explain that you want them to speak to a doctor about what they’re experiencing
  • Give lots of reassurance
  • Listen and try to understand what’s going on for them

If your child seems very unwell and is refusing to see the doctor you should go on their behalf or call a mental health crisis line if you’re worried about their mental health. The earlier someone gets help the more effective the treatment is likely to be.

If you can’t speak to your GP you can call NHS24 on 111

If you have immediate concerns about your child’s safety then should contact emergency services on 999

Getting help for your child

Going to speak to your GP is the first step in getting help for your child. You can find out more about treatments that help with psychosis here.

Useful Resources

Heads Up

On this page you will find links to different carers groups which offer support, help and group support with other parents and carers

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Information for parents, carers and people working with young people with mental health issues

Get Help now

If you are concerned about your mental health, or if you have found yourself feeling concerned about someone else, you can:

Call 111 – NHS 24

Call 116 123 – The Samaritans

Call 0800 83 85 87 – Breathing Space

Text: ‘YM’ to 85258 – Young Minds crisis chat

If you think you are in danger of hurting yourself or other people, you should call 999 or present to your local A&E department.