What is the Prodrome?

The “prodromal syndrome” is not a diagnosis, but the technical term used by mental health professionals to describe a specific group of symptoms that may precede the onset of a mental illness. For example, a fever is “prodromal” to measles, which means that a fever may be a risk factor for developing this illness. However, not everyone who has a fever goes on to develop measles. In order to prevent measles from developing, you would try to get rid of your fever and take care of any other symptoms you might have. At CAPPS, we focus on taking care of 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 subthreshold 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.