What is a prodrome?

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Author: Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division


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Prodrome is a medical term for early signs or symptoms of an illness or health problem that appear before the major signs or symptoms start.

Psychosis, a group of symptoms found in disorders like schizophrenia, is one illness with a specific prodrome. With psychosis, prodrome signs and symptoms start before full symptoms like hallucinations and delusions appear.

Common symptoms in the prodrome of psychosis include:

  • Low mood or mood swings

  • Increased anxiety

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Unusual fatigue

  • Difficulties concentrating or focusing

  • Feeling suspicious

  • Disorganized thoughts or confusion

  • Sensitivity to noise, lights, and other sensations

  • Withdrawal from others

These symptoms are found in many other mental illnesses, so it isn’t always clear at the time if this is a prodrome of psychosis or schizophrenia or something else. It’s best to seek help whenever you are concerned about your mental health or a loved one’s mental health. Psychosis and schizophrenia are much easier to manage and treat when treatment starts early.

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About the author

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The Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing a mental illness through public education, community-based research, advocacy, and direct services. Visit www.cmha.bc.ca.