Andrew Echeguren, 26, had his first psychotic episode when he was 15. He was working as an assistant coach at a summer soccer camp for kids when the lyrics coming out of his iPod suddenly morphed into racist and homophobic slurs, telling him to harm others – and himself. Echeguren fled the soccer camp and ran home, terrified the police were on his heels. He tried to explain to his mom what was happening, but the words wouldn’t come out right. His parents rushed him to a children’s crisis centre, where an ambulance arrived and transported him to the adolescent psychiatric facility at St Mary’s Medical Centre in San Francisco. “I thought it was a joke,” Echeguren said. “I didn’t think it was really happening because I didn’t know what was real or not.” If life feels a little too much sometimes, here’s some advice on what you can do to feel better Echeguren received antipsychotic medication, was put in a quiet room and looked after by attentive caregivers who helped stabilise him. Many young people don’t get the care they need so rapidly after a psychotic episode, if at all. As a result, they can become chronically disabled, and some end up homeless, incarcerated or addicted to drugs. “Early intervention preserves the most important pieces of a young person’s life - relationships with family and friends, success at work or school,” said Tara Niendam, executive director of Early Psychosis Programs at the University of California, Davis. Research corroborates Niendam’s view, and California lawmakers have endorsed it. Experts say that each year around 100,000 young people will experience their first psychotic episode. What is psychosis? Psychosis refers to a group of mental disorders, such as schizophrenia. The happen when thought and emotions are so impaired that people to lose contact with reality. Psychosis is not an illness in and of itself, but a symptom of some underlying illness. It can be caused by mental or physical illness, substance abuse or extreme stress or trauma. Eat yourself happy, no, really Psychosis can often strike when someone is in their late teens. It does not come on suddenly, but rather follows a pattern. Early warning signs can include: ● a drop in school or job performance ● inability to concentrate or think clearly ● feeling suspicious or uneasy around others ● spending more time alone, ● becoming overly emotional But those signs can cover a range of illnesses and be caused by a variety of other things. Actual signs of psychosis include: ● hallucinations, seeing, hearing or tasting things that others do not ● not performing usual hygiene, like bathing, washing hair, etc ● inability to pay attention Things are really bad when you start: ● thinking the shape of normal things are “wrong” ● seeing things that are not there ● hearing voices when no one is around ● feeling odd sensations, like bugs under your skin ● believing you’re someone you’re not ● believing you have super powers ● believing someone is plotting to “get you” ● believing someone or something else controls you ● believing you have special powers ● believing you are a god If you or anyone you know has these symptoms they should immediately go to a hospital emergency room. This is treatable, and delaying treatment can make it a lot worse. The average life span of people with major mental illnesses is up to 32 years less than for the general population, largely because they are at greater risk for multiple chronic diseases. Anxiety? Here’s how to take back control “These people don’t live beyond their late 50s,” said Insel, a former director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “It’s not a pretty picture. It’s a sad statement of where we are in the way we treat this illness.” Mental health experts say the most effective early psychosis treatment is something known as coordinated specialty care, which incorporates medication and psychotherapy with case management, support groups for the patients’ families and assistance securing employment or education. Back from the brink Echeguren, who was able to get adequate care on his parents’ relatively generous health plan, said that after several days in the St Mary’s psych unit, the frightening auditory hallucinations that had sent him running from the soccer camp began to fade. “It felt good,” he said. “I felt like I had narrowly escaped disaster.” After he left the hospital, Echeguren saw a psychiatrist and enrolled in a programme called Prevention and Recovery in Early Psychosis, which connected him to a therapist and family groups that he and his parents attended. What you can do for a friend with depression Ultimately, Echeguren graduated from high school, and then college. He now works at a public relations firm in San Francisco and lives with his girlfriend. He knows how lucky he is to have benefited from such rapid intervention. “If I would have waited a year and a half for treatment, I would be dead,” he said. “I would have done something bad to myself.” This article was curated by Young Post . Better Life is the ultimate resource for enhancing your personal and professional life.