Psychosis: An Overview

Psychosis is a serious mental condition that affects a person’s ability to think, behave, and interact with others. It’s characterized by severe delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thoughts and behavior, and impaired communication. People with psychosis may also have difficulty functioning in their daily lives.

There are many types of psychosis, but all involve a disruption in the way a person thinks, perceives reality, and relates to others. People experiencing psychosis may have difficulty with memory, judgment, and insight — all of which can interfere with normal functioning. Some people may also experience dysphoric moods — feelings of depression, anxiety, or agitation — as a result of psychosis.

Causes of Psychosis

In most cases, the cause of psychosis is unclear. However, some mental health and medical conditions can increase the risk. These include:

  • Substance use disorder
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Severe medical illnesses or infections
  • Genetic and neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptoms of psychosis are:

  • Hallucinations, which involve perceiving things that aren’t real.
  • Delusions, which involve beliefs or ideas that aren’t based in reality.
  • Thinking or speaking in a disorganized and confused manner.
  • Inability to focus or sustain attention.
  • Excessive feelings of suspicion or mistrust.
  • Seeing or hearing voices that others don’t.

Treatment of Psychosis

Treatment for psychosis typically focuses on reducing symptoms and preventing the relapse of psychotic episodes. Treatment often includes both medications and psychotherapy. Medications are generally prescribed to address the underlying cause of psychosis or to help control the symptoms. Psychotherapy can help a person with psychosis to cope with their symptoms, recognize triggers of psychosis, and develop coping skills.