Psychosis diagnosis 'as important as for cancer'

Early diagnosis of psychosis in young people is as important as early detection of cancer, latest guidance suggests.

The guidance, issued by the RCGP and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, has called for GPs to speed up their diagnosis of psychosis on the back of growing evidence that supports early symptom recognition.

Eighty per cent of cases of psychosis start between the ages of 16-30. Within this age group there is a 10 per cent chance lifetime risk of suicide and a 12 per cent chance that sufferers will end up unemployed.

But early intervention has been shown to halve the risk of suicide and double the chances of finding employment.

Consequently, the guidance states that early diagnosis of psychosis is akin to the early presentation of cancer.

The guidance recommends that GPs should look for early symptoms of psychosis such as poor sleep, social withdrawal and early psychotic thinking.

GPs are warned not to simply dismiss the symptoms as adolescence but be prepared to keep a watching brief.

Once the presence of psychotic symptoms has been established, GPs should refer patients to specialists for assessment of potential psychosis.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

View the the report on the National Institute for Mental Health in England website.

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