Category Archives: Sisters, Brothers and Friends

If you think a friend or relative has psychosis, they need to see a doctor or mental health clinic as soon as possible. A doctor is the best person to figure out what is wrong and what kind of medical help might be needed. The links below have some more info.

Early or Warning Signs of Psychosis

If you have concerns about a young person who may be experiencing psychosis, please contact the early psychosis intervention (EPI) service for your health region. The contact information can be obtained by calling 811 (HealthLinkBC) and asking for ‘early psychosis intervention’ or visiting this link.   These clinics can normally be contacted directly, without a referral from a doctor.

(This resource from Vancouver/Richmond EPI Early Psychosis Intervention service)

The following symptoms may indicate that an individual is experiencing psychosis or is in the prodromal phase. Frequently, individuals will display unusual behaviours prior to the onset of the acute psychotic episode. It is useful to educate individuals with psychosis about these symptoms once they’ve recovered from the episode, and to help them identify which symptoms are their personal “warning signs” of relapse.


  • Strange posturing
  • Odd or bizarre behaviour
  • Feeling refreshed after much less sleep than normal
  • Excessive writing without meaning
  • Cutting oneself; threats of self-mutilation
  • Deterioration of personal hygiene
  • Hyperactivity or inactivity, or alternating between the two
  • Staring without blinking – or blinking incessantly
  • Agitation
  • Severe sleep disturbances
  • Drug or alcohol abuse (This may be a coping mechanism: self-medicating)

Thinking and Speech


  • Things around them seem changed in some way
  • Rapid speech that is difficult to interrupt
  • Irrational statements
  • Extreme preoccupation with religion or with the occult
  • Peculiar use of words or odd language structures
  • Unusual sensitivity to stimuli (noise, light, colours, textures)
  • Memory problems
  • Severe distractibility



  • Sensitivity and irritability when touched by others
  • Refusal to touch persons or objects; wearing gloves, etc.
  • Severe deterioration of social relationships
  • Dropping out of activities – or out of life in general
  • Social withdrawal, isolation, and reclusive
  • Unexpected aggression
  • Suspiciousness



  • Inappropriate laughter
  • Inability to cry, or excessive crying
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Inability to express joy
  • Euphoric mood Personality
  • Reckless behaviours that are out of character
  • Significantly prolonged drops in motivation or speech
  • Shift in basic personality.

Psychosis Study – How Siblings are Affected

This article, in the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing, is about a study done of sisters and brothers of youth with psychosis and talks about how siblings are affected.

Siblings and psychosis (This is a link to the full article)

This is the abstract (summary) of the article:

The growth of early intervention in psychosis services (EIPS) has prompted needed research to provide a robust evidence base to underpin practice. The typical service model embraces key psychosocial interventions, including family interventions. A literature review revealed a number of relevant studies that recognized the role of siblings in families affected by severe mental illness or mental impairment, but little was found about the impact of first-episode psychosis on siblings.

To address this apparent oversight, we conducted a study to gain an understanding of sibling experiences. Ten siblings (ages 16 to 30) with a brother or sister diagnosed with first-episode psychosis took part in individual semi-structured interviews. The key findings were grouped in regard to emotional impact, relationships in the family, and siblings’ roles and coping patterns. The study also revealed that families are able to identify positive gains out of a fundamentally negative experience.


Online Support and Answer Groups

Would you like to talk online with others who are supporting or caring about someone with psychosis, schizophrenia, a mood disorder, depression or some other mental health concern?

Would you like to ask questions about mental illness and get information on support and services available to you in BC?

Click here to go to our online support forum, which provides support for family members and supporters.

For more detailed information about the support forums, please see below:

The BC Schizophrenia Society and the Mind Foundation (on behalf of BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information) are pleased to announce the launch of a series of new online support groups.

These support groups are for people caring for a loved one:

  • who is having difficulty coping with difficult thoughts, experiences or emotions, or
  • who may have a brain condition or mental illness affecting their thoughts emotions or behaviour.

The online groups are anonymous, private and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are three groups in the series. All groups are moderated. To go directly to the support groups, click here

For in-person or phone support– please check for support groups in your area on the calendar or by contacting your local BCSS Coordinator for groups not curently listed.

To go directly to the groups page, click here (NOTE: you will need to register (click on the register link) to view or post in the family support forums. You will need to provide your email address to register but no-one other than our moderators will be able to see it. )

Group Descriptions

1) Family Support Group – This group is for a family member, spouse, parent, sibling, friend of a person with a mental illness. It is a private online place to discuss ideas and experiences, to ask questions and to share resources and information with one another. You are welcome to use your real name or a pseudonym/nicname when you register to this group, and only those people registered with the forum will be able to see what is written on the list or post responses.

2) LGBT Family Support Group – This group is for persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered, and who also are caring for a loved one or family member with a mental illness. It is a private online place to discuss ideas and experiences, to ask questions and to share resources and information with one another. You are welcome to use your real name or a pseudonym/nicname when you register to this group, and only those people registered with the forum will be able to see what is written on the list or post responses. This group is moderated by program coordinator Sophia Kelly.

3) Rural Family Support Group – This group is just like the Family Support group (#1) above, except for people living in rural areas. Since services are so different in rural BC, it makes sense to have a place to ask questions, share experiences and talk about caring for someone with a mental illness that is just for folks living outside the major centres in BC. This online support group is moderated by Kim Dixon, the BCSS Regional Coordinator for the Prince George area. (The same as the above two groups, you are welcome to use your full name or a nicname to register with the group for increased privacy, and only those people registered with the forum will be able to see what is written in the group area or post responses. )

How To Get Involved / Confidentiality

In order to preserve the privacy of the groups (and to prevent spam) you will need to register to participate in any of these groups. To register, click on this link. (Make sure you answer the question in the first part of the registration screen, that helps verify you”re a person and not a spam robot.) You will need to provide your email address when registering, but no-one other than the moderators will be able to see it. You can view the descriptions of the various groups by clicking here.

Once you”ve registered for the group you will be able to log in and join the support group that suits you best. If you need help getting registered please email for help.

Note to group members and researchers: The posts in the support forums are private, belong to their authors and need to be respected as confidential. No permission is granted for any use of the support forums or the information within for anything other than personal support. Research enquiries or other announcements are not welcome and will be deleted from the support forums. Announcements may be posted in the Information area of the site.

Volunteers: The groups are new and the conversation is just starting up, so we invite you to introduce yourself and start a conversation on the groups to help get things going. We”re also looking for volunteers willing to be ‘greeters” on the list – this low-commitment volunteer position would be to make a point of logging into the list once a week and posting or replying to posts to help stimulate discussion and welcome new members. Please contact if you are interested in helping out in this way.

This project is funded by BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information

Drugs and Psychosis

– Psychosis can be induced by drugs or can be “drug assisted”. Some stimulating drugs, like amphetamines, can cause psychosis, while other drugs, including marijuana, can trigger the onset of psychosis in someone who is already at increased risk because they have “vulnerability”.

It is also believed that some drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine can cause a condition known as a drug-induced psychosis. This psychosis can last up to a few days, and is often characterized by hallucinations, delusions, memory loss and confusion. This usually results from prolonged or heavy street-drug use; and it responds well to treatment.

Cannabis and Psychosis – information on why marijuana/pot/hash/cannabis is risky for people who have psychosis or are at risk for psychosis

Marijuana use increases risk for psychosis by 40% – An article by Theresa H.M. Moore, MSc, from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues was published in the July 28 issue of The Lancet. Moore compared the results of several research studies that followed people over a period of time (systematic review of longitudinal studies). She found that there is enough new evidence that the use of cannabis (marijuana) increases the risk for later psychotic illness by roughly 40%.

Crystal Meth and Psychosis – This fact sheet looks at the connection between psychosis and the use of Crystal Methamphetamine.

What Causes Psychosis?

How to Get Help for Psychosis

What if my brother or sister (or friend) has psychosis?

[Printable Version]

“When my sister got sick she was acting really bizarre and the police had to take her to emergency. It was really scary. My friends didn’t understand at first that it was just because her brain was sick, but they do now.”

Why is my brother or sister acting this way?

Psychosis is an illness of the brain. It is caused in part by genetic (inherited) brain problems plus stress or street drugs like marijuana and crystal meth. When the brain gets ill, it is hard for the person to know what is wrong. They may make up and believe other explanations for why they feel so weird, and they may act strangely. It will be really hard for them to tell the difference between what is real and not real. Psychosis can be treated, and the earlier it is treated, the easier their recovery is likely to be.

Will I get it too?

The risk for psychosis is about three in every hundred people. If you have a sister or brother with psychosis your risk of getting it is one in ten. You have way more chance of NOT getting psychosis than of getting it.

However, if sometime in the future you think you might be getting ill you can go to your family doctor for a checkup. It is also a really, really good idea to avoid using street drugs like marijuana and crystal meth, which put stress on the parts of the brain that are involved in psychosis. If there is an early psychosis service in your area, the people there can also talk to you and answer any questions you have. They might be able to put you in touch with some other siblings of people with psychosis to talk to, as well.

Was it something I did?

Psychosis is a medical illness. Sometimes when something hard happens in your life or to your family, people deal with it by blaming themselves. You don’t need to. There’s nothing you could have done to cause your brother or sister’s illness.

How can I help?

You can help by being around to talk, by being positive, by giving sincere compliments and by gently encouraging your brother or sister to do things they’re good at. Doing one-on-one things with your brother or sister will be better than doing things in crowds. They’re likely to be giving themselves a hard time about their illness. You can help by being encouraging and reminding them it’s an illness and they will get better.

How long will it take for them to get better?

Nowadays, psychosis is normally treated with low doses of antipsychotic medication along with education and support for the person and their family. Once they start treatment, it can take a few months to up to a year for the person to get better. Sometimes they’ll have some leftover symptoms that hang on longer. While they’re recovering, they’re likely to have a lot less energy to do things, be a lot quieter, need a lot more alone time, and prefer not to be in large crowds or noisy places.

This information was written in 2005 by Sophia Kelly for the BC Schizophrenia Society, on behalf of BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information with funding from the Provincial Health Services Authority © 2005 Permission to copy and use this publication is granted for non-profit educational purposes.