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What is a prodrome?


Author: Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division



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


Q&A is for readers who want to take charge of their well-being, support a friend or loved one, find good help, or just learn more about mental health and substance use. Here, the information and resource experts at HeretoHelp will answer the questions that we’re asked most often. We'll offer tips and information, and we'll connect you with help in BC, Canada. If you have a question you’d like to ask, email us at [email protected], tweet @heretohelpbc, or log in to HeretoHelp and post a comment on this page.


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