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Psychosis & young people

FDP girl on roofMost people who develop psychosis for the first time do so when they are 18 or older, although it can develop in teenagers as young as 13.

When a young person's behaviour changes it can be difficult to know if it is part of their normal development or if it is something more serious like the beginning of a psychotic disorder.

Because young people are still developing, emerging psychotic disorders may look quite different in young people compared with adults who are developing psychosis for the first time.

In teenagers, hallucinations are not normally the result of psychosis – they can happen in up to 10% of teenagers and are most often related to severe anxiety or traumatic experiences. Some psychotic young people may simply withdraw, without having obvious changes in their thinking, and struggle to do day-to-day tasks that they had managed well before.

When teenagers start showing psychotic symptoms it can take a lot of watching and waiting before it becomes clear if they have a mental illness and what it might be.

Youth Speciality Service

If you are between 13 and 18 when you develop psychotic symptoms your GP or doctor may refer you to Youth Speciality Service. This service has a team of healthcare workers who manage young people who may be developing a psychotic disorder.

The service can also offer support to parents of children who may be developing a psychotic disorder.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created April 2016.


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