People with psychotic disorders experience changes in the way
they interpret reality.
Common symptoms of psychotic disorders are:
- Emotional changes:
- Feeling distanced or detached from one's body or thoughts
- Feeling that the surrounding world is strange or not real
- Feeling unusually excited or feeling down and depressed,
experiencing mood swings
- Finding it hard to show emotions or feeling less emotions than
other people do
- Perceptual or sensory changes:
- Hallucinations: having the sense of experiencing something that
really isn't there (eg, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or
feeling things that do not exist in the environment and that others
don't think is there)
- Cognitive changes:
- Delusional thinking or false beliefs, having fixed thoughts
about something that probably isn't true and not accepting any
logical arguments that it isn't the case (eg, believing that your
thoughts are being controlled by someone else)
- Difficulty concentrating, paying attention and remembering
- Everyday thoughts can seem confusing, making it hard to
- Behavioral changes:
- Social isolation or being withdrawn
- Problems with work, social or family life
- Problems with motivation or problems with increased
- Responding differently to situations, for example laughing when
things don't seen funny
- Physical changes:
Onset of psychotic disorders in young
Around one in every 100 people will experience psychosis at some
stage in their lives (1). In Australia,
between 0.3-0.5% of males and 0.2-0.3% of females aged 18-24 will
have been treated for psychosis within the previous month (1).
Schizophrenia is the third leading contributor to the burden of
disease and injury in Australian males aged 15-24, and the fifth
leading contributor for females (2).
Overall, about 50% of people who develop a psychotic disorder
will do so by the time they are in their early 20s. The age of
onset tends to be a little older in females than males (1, 3).
A number of factors are known to increase the likelihood that a
person will have a psychotic disorder (4). They
- Genetic vulnerability (for example, a psychotic illness in
other family members)
- Complications during pregnancy or birth
- Place and season of birth
- Differences in brain structure and function
- Substance abuse
- Psychosocial stress
Research has indicated that there are some additional factors
that place a person at particularly high risk (4). This includes genetic vulnerability and the
- 'Attenuated' or mild psychotic symptoms
- Brief, limited or intermittent psychotic symptoms
- An unexplained increase in problems with work or school and
social or family life
1. Jablenskey A,
McGrath J, et al. Psychotic disorders in urban areas: an overview of
the Study on Low Prevalence Disorders. Aust NZ J Psychiatry.
2000 Apr;34(2): 221-236.
2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Youth
Australians: their health and wellbeing. 2007 Cat. no. PHE 87.
3. Kessler RC,
Amminger GP, et al. Age of onset of mental disorders: a review of
recent literature. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2007 Jul;20(4):
4. Yung AR, Phillips LJ, et
al. Risk factors for psychosis in an ultra high-risk
group: psychopathology and clinical features. Schizophr Res.
2004 Apr 1; 67(2-3): 131-142.