Psychosis

If you're seeing or hearing things or feeling out of touch with reality, you're not alone. Find out more about psychosis and what to do if it affects you.

What is psychosis?

Psychosis can be a symptom of serious mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. It can also be related to stress, depression or drugs and alcohol.

In a psychotic episode, a person loses touch with reality as other people see it. They might hear voices, see or feel things that aren't there, feel paranoid or believe things that don't rationally make sense.

Although it can be scary, psychosis is treatable. Some people have one episode of psychosis and never have another one, while others might need ongoing treatment.

The symptoms of psychosis

Other people might notice symptoms before you do, because psychosis can make you feel like things are normal when they're not. Symptoms include:

  • hallucinations where you see, feel, smell or hear things that aren't there
  • delusions, where you 'just know' things that seem unreal to other people
  • feeling that you're being followed or your life is in danger
  • muddled thinking and difficulty concentrating
  • a feeling that you're being controlled by something outside yourself
  • feeling like time speeds up or slows down

Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by psychosis. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.

What to do about psychosis

Take the first step - talk to someone straight away and ask for help. Choose someone you like and trust, like a teacher, relative, counsellor or friend.

You should also see your GP. They may offer to refer you to the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS), an expert or a psychiatrist who can help.

More about how CAMHS works

Treating psychosis

Psychosis is usually treated using medications called anti-psychotics or neuroleptics.

You may also be offered cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) or counselling to help you get over the experience of psychosis.

If you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar, your treatment will depend on your needs.

Find out more about the drugs used to treat psychosis
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