Mental Health Consult

Psychosis: First-episode variety in adolescence ‘insidious’


Serious mental illness can present slowly and in ways that might not look serious, which is why primary care physicians would do well to educate themselves about what psychosis looks like.

The problem, according to Dr. David Pickar, psychiatrist and former (retired) intramural research director for the National Institute of Mental Health, is the lack of information about recognizing the signs and symptoms, and about proper interventions.

“Knowing about it is enormously important for all docs,” Dr. Pickar says. “What’s fascinating is many of the first breaks occur, not necessarily quietly, but can be a little insidious. They can be brought to primary care. It is not uncommon. With serious mental illness, particularly schizophrenia, 1% of the population has it. That makes it a very common disorder.”

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