Frequently Asked Questions

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The Prodrome

The “prodromal syndrome” is not a diagnosis, but rather a term used by mental health professionals to describe a specific group of symptoms that may occur before the onset of a mental illness. It’s similar to how a fever can be “prodromal” to measles, meaning it may indicate a risk for developing the illness. However, not everyone with a fever will develop measles. At CAPPS, our focus is on addressing symptoms that may precede the onset of psychosis.

Psychosis affects between 1% and 3% of the population, and typically emerges between the ages of 15 and 30. The prodromal phase of psychosis is the critical time period when individuals are showing signs that they are at risk for developing a psychotic illness. This at risk phase may last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of years. During this time, individuals often experience symptoms of psychosis at a sub-threshold level of intensity or at full intensity for short periods of time. Individuals and their families may also notice changes in functioning, such as trouble with school or work and social withdrawal or anxiety.


Please note that the information provided is intended for general understanding and should not replace personalized medical advice. If you have specific concerns or questions about mental health, please consult with a healthcare professional or contact CAPPS for further assistance.


Thanks to our research grants and generous gifts, all assessments and treatment services are free of charge. Youth are reimbursed for their participation in assessments.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Unusual Thinking: This may manifest as confusion about what is real and imaginary, suspicious thoughts, feeling controlled by outside forces, unrealistic ideas of special abilities, or preoccupation with the supernatural.
  • Perceptual Disturbances: This includes sensitivity to sounds, hearing things others don’t, seeing things others don’t, and experiencing unusual sensations like smells, tastes, or feelings that others don’t share.
  • Negative Symptoms: These can involve a desire to spend more time alone, lack of motivation, difficulty understanding conversations or written materials, and challenges with identifying and expressing emotions.
  • Disorganized Symptoms: This category encompasses difficulties with attention, neglect of personal hygiene, unusual appearance or behavior, and atypical communication patterns such as vague, confused, muddled, racing, or slow speech.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these signs and symptoms, it’s important to seek professional help promptly. Contact a healthcare provider, mental health specialist, or CAPPS for guidance and evaluation. Early intervention can make a significant difference in managing and addressing these concerns.

Remember that this information is for general understanding, and it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and support tailored to your specific situation.