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 mental illness. For example, a runny-nose is often “prodromal” to (happening before) a cold, which means that a runny-nose may be a risk factor for developing this illness. However, not everyone who has a runny-nose goes on to develop a cold. 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.  We focus on assessing symptoms that may precede the onset of psychosis and connecting participants with treatment providers.

Psychosis affects between 1% and 3% of the population and typically emerges between the ages of 15 and 30. The prodromal phase of psychosis may last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of years. During this time, individuals experience symptoms of psychosis at mild or moderate levels of intensity, or 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.

It is important to note that just because an individual is “prodromal” does not mean that they will go on to develop psychosis. You would not assume that someone is inevitably developing measles simply because they have a fever. Likewise, you should not assume that someone will inevitably go on to develop psychosis simply because they are experiencing prodromal symptoms.



While each person’s prodrome is unique, there are some common themes to look out for.

Early signs and symptoms can include any of the following:


Unusual Thinking

  • Confusion about what is real and what is imaginary

  • Suspiciousness or paranoid thinking

  • Feeling that your ideas are or behaviors are being controlled by outside forces

  • Unrealistic ideas of special identity or abilities

  • Preoccupation with the supernatural


Perceptual Disturbances

  • Sensitivity to sounds, easily distracted by background noises

  • Hearing things that other people don’t hear

  • Seeing things that others don’t see

  • Smelling, tasting, or feeling unusual sensations that other people don’t experience

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Negative Symptoms

  • Wanting to spend more time alone

  • Not feeling motivated to do things

  • Trouble understanding conversations or written materials

  • Difficulty identifying and expressing emotions

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Disorganized Symptoms

  • Trouble with attention

  • Neglect of personal hygiene

  • Laughing at odd or inappropriate times

  • Problems with communication

  • Vague, racing or slow speech, difficulty staying on track or getting to the point

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Mood Symptoms

  • Sadness, emptiness, or irritability

  • Loss of interest or pleasure

  • Physical symptoms (tiredness, weight gain/loss, aches and pains)

  • Thoughts of death and/or suicide

  • Elevated mood: excitement, feeling high or “hyper” Racing thoughts

  • Distractibility, talkativeness

  • Increased activity

  • Irritability

  • Inflated self-esteem or feelings of self-importance

  • Decreased need for sleep

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Anxiety Symptoms

  • Constant fear or worry

  • Excessive social anxiety

  • Panic Attacks

  • Agoraphobia (fear of leaving home)


Impairment in Functioning

  • Decline in functioning

  • Problems in relationships with friends or family


think you may be at risk for psychosis?

CAPR Study

We are interested in developing a computerized task battery that can reliably predict those who may be at greater risk for developing psychosis. Through this task based approach, we hope to use existing knowledge of the mechanisms underlying unusual thoughts and experiences to create an online tool that is easily accessible and has high predictive power in the general population.


Participants will first undergo a paid 1.5-hour screening session to determine eligibility for the study. If found to be a good fit, they will be enrolled in the study for two years. After the screening session, participants will complete a 3 hour interview process. The sessions following this interview will consist of a 3 hour online task battery and 1 hour of completing surveys. Participants will complete the same initial interview at 12-month and 24-month follow-up sessions.

Participants will be given $45 for the 1.5-hour screening session. If enrolled, participants will receive $30/hour for the remainder of the study procedures.

If you would like to learn more or are interested in participating in our CAPR Study, please email capr@temple.edu with your phone number, and our research team will contact you to describe the study further and offer a phone screening.