What is psychosis?
Psychosis is a symptom of various mental and physical illnesses which causes someone to interpret reality differently than others. The most common signs of psychosis are hallucinations and delusions.
How common is psychosis?
Psychosis is a symptom of many illnesses. As such, there are no known statistics on the number of people who experience it. However, the most commonly diagnosed psychotic disorder is schizophrenia, which is diagnosed in 1 in every 100 people.
Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are a group of disorders characterized by loss of touch with reality, disorganized speech or behavior, and severe impairment in functioning.
Reactions to recreational drug use can cause psychotic episodes. Psychosis may also occur as a side effect of prescribed medication.
Psychosis can result from a stress-or trauma-related condition.
Other medical conditions such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) or brain cancer can cause symptoms of psychosis.
Paranoid personality disorder may cause symptoms of psychosis, such as paranoid delusions.
Some people diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder experience psychotic features.
A severe lack of sleep can lead to psychotic episodes.
It is normal to experience mild hallucinations during a period of bereavement. For example, you may see your loved one who has died or hear them calling your name.
What is a delusion?
A delusion is a fixed belief that is not based on evidence and is not influenced by logical argument or evidence to the contrary. There are many types of delusions-- paranoid, grandiose, referential, religious, and more.
What is paranoia?
Paranoia is an obsession with unjustified suspicious thoughts about others. For example, a paranoid person may be convinced that someone is following them or stalking them, or that other people are gaslighting them.
What are hallucinations?
Hallucinations are sensorial experiences (in any of the five basic senses) that are not grounded in objective reality. The most common types are auditory (such as hearing voices) and visual.
Certain types of therapy, including cognitive behavioral techniques, can help someone learn to live with the symptoms of psychosis.
Depending on the cause of the psychosis, antipsychotic and/or antidepressant medication may be recommended.
Educating yourself and others on the cause of your psychosis can help you identify potential triggers and build a strong support system.
If the psychosis is unresponsive to other treatment, your doctor may recommend ECT. Contrary to popular depictions, ECT is not a treatment to be afraid of. However, it can have severe side effects and should be carefully considered with your physician.
If the psychosis is debilitating or you are a danger to yourself, you may be need to be temporarily hospitalized until you are in a more stable condition.
Psychosis makes a person violent or dangerous. Psychosis alone does not make a person dangerous or violent. People with psychotic disorders are typically more likely to be the victim of violence than to perpetrate it.
People who experience psychosis should be locked up in hospitals. Not everyone who experiences psychosis needs to be hospitalized. Many people learn to live with the symptoms of psychosis and go on to live functioning lives.
"Psychotic" means a person has a split personality. Psychosis refers to a break from reality. The existence of multiple personalities is a symptom of Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Murderers and other dangerous criminals are psychotic. People who commit violent crimes do not necessarily have a mental illness, even if they are not emotionally well. To learn about the difference, click here.
Once you become psychotic, your life is over. Experiencing psychosis for the first time can be incredibly frightening and it may feel like you will never be okay again. But many people recover from psychosis and go on to live happy lives. If you are experiencing signs of psychosis or you think you might be experiencing them, talk to a doctor. The sooner you receive help the better.
Symptoms of psychosis are always obvious. Many people assume that all psychotic people are sitting in a corner somewhere drooling on themselves. While psychotic episodes can be apparent to an observer, the symptoms are not always obvious. This is especially true if the individual knows they experience psychotic symptoms and are accustomed to living with them.
Developed by schizophrenic Rachel Star Withers, this journal is for anyone who lives with psychotic symptoms. "Nothing has ever taken away my hallucinations but I have been able to get used to them. They are always there... usually just chilling." -Rachel Star Withers
In This TED talk, Eleanor Longden shares her personal story of trauma, psychosis, and learning to live with the voices in her head.
Strong 365 is a project that helps you see the early signs of a first episode of psychosis and gets you help before it turns into a crisis.
Self-declared "schizo stunt girl" Rachel Star Withers has been experiencing psychotic symptoms her whole life. On her YouTube channel, she shares personal stories and coping mechanisms for living with mental illness.
When journalist Susannah Cahalan experienced a sudden psychotic break, neither her family nor her doctors knew how to help her. After a long and terrifying ordeal, she finally received a diagnosis that changed lives around the world.
Rethink Mental Illness was founded by a group of dedicated advocates who were each caring for someone with schizophrenia. Now, they provide support and advocacy for people all over the world.