Psychotic episodes have to be taken seriously, since they can progress into a severe psychiatric illness if left untreated. Everyone can develop such a disease.

Here you can find information on the symptoms and causes as well as additional links.


During a psychotic episode, there can be alteration of someone's thinking and perception, as well as of one's feelings and behaviour.

It is possible for example to

  • be very anxious,
  • feel watched or followed,
  • hear or see something that is not there in reality,
  • suffer from confusing thoughts,
  • experience deep sadness.

Often the people affected themselves or their partners, next of kin or friends notice that the person concerned

  • has difficulties in his daily life,
  • is withdrawn and distant,
  • gets into trouble at work, in school or university.

These psychotic episodes do not start out of nowhere. In fact there are a number of early signs which can preceed an episode. On the basis of these symptoms it is possible to asses if there is an increased risk of developing a psychotic episode.

Especially if there are persistent changes in character or performance in a younger person, the possibility of a starting psychosis should never be excluded. Therefore the following early signs and risk factors should be paid attention to, particularly if they arised newly over the last years:

  • Changes in character (e.g. higher sensitivity, irritability or lack of energy, odd behaviour)
  • Alterations of feelings (e.g. distrust, anxiety, depression)
  • Changes in social life (e.g. sudden difficulties in relationships, isolation, withdrawal)
  • Shift in performance (e.g. difficulties concentrating, increased distractibility, performance dip)
  • Changes of interests (e.g. sudden unusual interest in religion or supranatural topics)
  • Changes in perception (e.g. delusion of reference, changes in vision, hearing and smelling)

Heritability/complications during pregnancy and delivery

The susceptibility for a schizophrenic psychosis is inherited. But there are also indices for a connection with complications during pregrancy and delivery. Simultaneously other factors might probably increase the risk for the illness.

Biological changes in the brain

Due to this predisposition the brain of affected individuals is especially "sensitive" and can overreact in the event of certain stressors or because of drug consumption. Certain neurotransmitters, biochemical messengers which transmit information in between nerve cells, are released extensively. This gives rise to acute psychotic symptoms like delusions, hallucinations and thought disorders.

Trigger drugs

Several studies found that for example the abuse of cannabis can facilitate the onset of psychotic symptoms and trigger a schizophrenic psychosis.

Trigger stress

Acute psychotic episodes often arise in particular encumbering life situations. There are models which describe how certain stressful situations like

  • interpersonal conflicts,
  • leaving the parental home,
  • loss of a close person,
  • occupational stress,

can in context of an inherited susceptibility trigger a schizophrenic psychosis.

More information


FePsy-Flyer -> download

Our FePsy-flyer contains brief and clear information about beginning psychoses.


Patient brochure about early detection -> download
Patient brochure about psychoses -> download

The brochures we developed in cooperation with MEPHA contain detailed information about psychoses and their early detection.

E-learning-module: Schizophrenia - early detection and early intervention  -> download


What is a Psychosis?


Early intervention and psychosis clinic
Kornhausgasse 7
CH-4051 Basel

Tel. +41 61 325 81 81
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