Emotional and behavioral changes in an adolescent or young adult can be a confusing and upsetting experience for an individual and his/her family members. Though difficult to describe to others or not always noticeable at first, certain kinds of changes in thoughts, perceptions, feelings and behavior may become a source of concern or worry for young people, their families, or their teachers. Changes in social, school and/or work functioning may also begin to appear. Taken together, these changes may represent the earliest signs that someone is at-risk for psychosis or other mental illness.
Developmental models of psychosis suggest that years before the onset of a psychotic illness there are deficits in attention and verbal memory (often by late childhood) and social and behavioral impairments and thinking disturbances that emerge or intensify in early adolescence or young adulthood. These changes may be difficult to capture in a DSM-IV diagnosis, yet they remain a source of concern for the young person, his/her family, and clinicians. Many of these individuals will present with depression and/or anxiety, some will have been diagnosed with ADHD, and many show subtle but ongoing "low-grade" symptoms of a psychotic disorder such as unusual thoughts or perceptions but do not meet diagnostic criteria for a specific mental disorder. Symptoms typically have begun in the past year or have worsened in the past year.
The clinical research team, comprised of psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and research assistants, provides initial screening and comprehensive assessment in the context of clinical research studies aimed at early identification and referral for treatment of at-risk mental states. Participants and their referring clinicians will be provided with any available diagnostic information and/or referrals to other clinical services.