Psychosis: Symptoms, Information, Causes and Treatment


Overview: Psychosis is a very serious mental health condition that leads to an individual seeing, perceiving or interpreting things in different ways to others. The main signs of Psychosis are either hallucinations or delusions. Those who suffer from psychosis are said to ‘lose touch’ with reality. Psychosis is a very serious problem that can have severe ramifications on those who suffer with it. In rare cases, psychosis can be a positive thing – with some people suggesting they can hear the voices of dead loved ones. Unfortunately, the majority of those encountering psychotic episodes have negative symptoms. Many people have psychotic episodes, as opposed to long-term suffering.




Symptoms: There are two main symptoms of psychosis. Suffering from either is a serious condition.


Hallucinations: This is when a person hears, sees, feels or smells something that isn’t there. Hearing voices is a common form of hallucination.


Delusions: Strongly linked to paranoia, delusions are where someone has a steadfast belief of something that doesn’t seem logical by others or is just plain false. A common delusion some people have is a belief that there is a conspiracy or plot to kill or harm them.


Furthermore, a disturbed mind or racing thoughts can be other symptoms.



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Causes: Psychosis can be caused by a number of factors. Psychological causes are common, though other illnesses or substance abuse can easily cause episodes of psychosis.


Psychological Illnesses: People who suffer from Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder commonly have psychotic episodes. Severe insomnia can also cause psychosis.


Medical Illnesses: A range of illnesses can trigger psychotic episodes – these include HIV and AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Lupus.


Substance Abuse: Alchohol or drug abuse have also been known to lead to psychotic episodes. Withdrawal effects can also include psychotic episodes. Particular drugs that have a strong likelihood of triggering a psychotic episode include cocaine, amphetamine (Speed), MDMA (Ecstacy), Cannabis, LSD and Psilocybins (Magic Mushrooms). Overdoses of any medication can also lead to psychosis.


Diagnosis: Psychosis is a serious problem, and as such, you are recommended to visit your GP as soon as possible if you are experiencing symptoms of Psychosis. The earlier your treatment is, the more likely the chance of full remission. There is no set way to diagnose psychosis, though a GP can make a determination on the state of your mind by asking you a series of questions. They will listen to your experiences and try to gain a thorough understanding. Such is the seriousness of Psychosis – it is likely you will be referred to a specialist for urgent help. Referrals will usually lead to a full assessment that leads to treatment.


Treatment: How Psychosis is treated depends on the severity of the symptoms. Usually, a combination of PsychotherapyAnipsychotic Medication and social support is used. This combination typically involves several different healthcare professionals.


Antipsychotic medications are generally prescribed immediately after a diagnosis has been made. Unfortunately, the side effects of antipsychotics mean they aren’t suitable for everyone. Antidepressants or Mood Stabilisers can also be prescribed. However, they generally do work, and can relieve some of the symptoms of psychosis. They will need some time to work, often around two weeks. It is important to consistently take the medication, as missing regular doses can lead to relapse.


Therapy is also an important treatment, with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) regularly used. Support from one’s family is also important. Unfortunately, under the Mental Health Act of 1983, on occasion someone suffering from psychosis will be required to be admitted to hospital or a mental health facility (sectioning). This however will only happen in extreme cases – such as if someone’s symptoms cause them to be a danger to themselves or others Sectioning does mean that you will lose your right to consenting to different types of treatments. It is important to note this is rare, and the majority of psychotic episodes can be treated with a combination of therapy and medication.


Living With Psychosis: Psychosis is a very serious issue, and for those suffering from psychotic episodes, it can be a very stressful and traumatic time. Those suffering from psychosis need support from their friends and family. It is especially important that family members remember that for people suffering from psychosis will feel their beliefs are very true. It can therefore be distressing when these ideas, which are clearly wrong, are dismissed. Listening to their problems, and supporting them in any way, is important.




Extras: – for people who hear voices, including local support groups.