What is psychosis?
Psychosis can be a symptom of serious mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
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. These symptoms are there for most of the time for several weeks.
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 e.g. paranoid beliefs that there is a conspiracy against you
- 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.
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.
Helplines you services available
- If you're in distress and need support, you can ring Samaritans for free at any time of the day or night.
- Freephone (UK and Republic of Ireland): 116 123 (24 hours)
- Email: [email protected]
- If you're under 19 you can confidentially call, email, or chat online about any problem big or small
Freephone 24h helpline: 0800 1111
- Sign up for a childline account on the website to be able to message a counsellor anytime without using your email address
- Chat 1:1 with an online advisor
- If you're under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need.
- Freephone: 0808 808 4994 (13:00-23:00 daily)