This month’s speakers are – Carla Means Ransom, M.A., LMFT, intensive services manager and Carissa Hsu, MFTI Clinical Therapist. They will present information about the Center for the Assessment and Prevention of Prodromal States (CAPPS), which is a family therapy based program that targets the transitional age youth ages 16 – 25 years. The program is funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and located at Harbor UCLA. CAPPS works with the population who are showing prodromal symptoms, which are what an individual may experience prior to developing a mental illness.
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 a mental illness. For example, a fever is “prodromal” to measles, which means that a fever may be a risk factor for developing this illness. However, not everyone who has a fever goes on to develop measles. 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. “At CAPPS, we focus on taking care of symptoms that may precede the onset of psychosis.”
Psychosis affects between 1% and 3% of the population, and typically emerges between the ages of 15 and 30. The prodromal phase of psychosis is the critical time period when individuals are showing signs that they are at risk for developing a psychotic illness. This at risk phase may last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of years. During this time, individuals often experience symptoms of psychosis at a subthreshold level of intensity or at full intensity 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.