Psychosis 101: What It Is and How to Get Help

“Schizophrenia.” “Schizophrenic.” “Delusional.” “Hallucinating.” These are words and concepts that are casually thrown around in our society with much stigma attached to them. However, there is little widespread understanding of what schizophrenia actually is. According to NAMI, schizophrenia is described as a “serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness.” The first symptoms occur “in the late teens and early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women.”

Psychosis is a symptom of Schizophrenia (and related disorders), and it is more common than you may think. About 3.2 million people in the United States experience psychosis, and 100,000 people experience their first symptoms of psychosis every year.

Early or first-episode psychosis (FEP) refers to when a person first shows signs of beginning to lose contact with this reality. Acting quickly to connect a person with the right treatment during early psychosis or FEP can be life-changing and radically alter that person’s future.

  • Feelings of paranoia or intense anxiety
    • Feeling like people are following you, always watching you, out to get you, etc.
  • Feelings of disorganization
    • Having trouble understanding other people, feeling confused, and having trouble organizing your thoughts and/or behaviors
  • Experiencing delusions
    • Being super sure that something is real and true, when most other people don’t agree
      • For example: believing you are a God
  • Experiencing hallucinations
    • Seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting things that other people cannot
      • For example: hearing a person say you are in trouble, but no one else can hear them when you can

  • Colorado Crisis Line: 1-844-493-8255
  • Text “TALK” to 38255
  • Crisis Walk-In Centers
    • Adams County Walk-In Center: 2551 W  84th Ave, Westminster, Colorado 80031
  • Get connected with a mental health agency
  • Experiencing psychosis for the first time? Get connected with a FEP team!
    • Community Reach Center’s FEP: 303-853-3831


Written by Community Reach Center Therapists Cayla Steffy and Joseph Oria