What is psychosis?
Psychosis is a mental health problem that causes people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them. This might involve hallucinations or delusions.
Symptoms of psychosis
Hallucinations – where a person hears, sees and in some cases, feels smells or tastes things that aren’t there.
Delusions – where a person has strong beliefs that aren’t shared by others; a common delusion is someone believing there is a conspiracy to harm them.
Confused thoughts – confusing speech. Switching from one subject to another mid-sentence. Talking very fast. Sudden loss in their train of thoughts.
Links to other mental health conditions
People may experience episodes of psychosis if they have:
Bipolar disorder – when someone experiences episodes of mania, they may also experience symptoms of psychosis.
Schizophrenia – a mental health condition that causes hallucinations and delusions.
Substance misuse – alcohol or drug misuse can trigger psychotic episodes, particularly if someone stops using substances after a long period of time (withdrawal symptoms).
Postpartum psychosis – a rare but serious mental health condition that can happen to any woman following childbirth.
Helping someone with psychosis
- If you believe someone is experiencing symptoms of psychosis approach them with a calm and caring attitude.
- Choose an appropriate time and place where you will both feel comfortable.
- The person may be very frightened about what they are experiencing and worry about what others may think about them.
- The person may say things out of character which you may find unusual – do not dismiss what they say or try and correct the person
- If they are experiencing a severe psychotic episode, the person should go to hospital. Call the emergency services for assistance.
Hearing Voices Network – information and support for people who hear voices and local support groups
Website – https://www.hearing-voices.org/
National Paranoia Network – information and support for people who experience paranoid thoughts
Website – https://nationalparanoianetwork.org/
Royal College of Psychiatrists – The professional medical body responsible for supporting psychiatrists
Website – https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health