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A Guide on Psychosis

Psychosis is a severe mental disorder that causes abnormal thinking patterns.

What is psychosis?

Psychosis is a severe mental disorder that causes abnormal thinking patterns as well as a change of perceptions. One type of psychotic disorder is schizophrenia and individuals with bipolar disorder may experience psychotic symptoms (Bien, 2016). Individuals who suffer from this disorder get disconnected from the world and they lose touch of reality, this may include hallucinations and delusions.

What are delusions and hallucinations?

Delusions are a false perception of reality. There are different types of delusions such as paranoid delusions, which includes believing others are trying to hurt you or even kill you, and delusions of grandeur, the belief of having talent or powers you don't have. The duration of delusions normally last up to a month. Hallucinations are sensory experiences without having any sensory stimulation. This includes seeing and hearing things that aren’t there. They may be viewed as incomprehensible experiences and perceptions are accomplished by different feelings such as vividness (Kumari, Chaudhury and Kumar, 2013). All these factors are examples of positive symptoms. Negative symptoms include lack of interest in hobbies and people as well as slurred and slowed speech. 

What causes psychosis?

Psychosis can be caused by a range of different factors, including illegal drugs, bipolar disorder, depression with psychosis, and genetics. Some individuals may hear voices or witness different things as part of their spiritual experiences (Siever, 2005). It can be seen as a positive thing as it helps you make sense of your life and puts you more at ease. However, not everyone experiences everything positive. There are also negative aspects of an experience which include the individual feeling like they're possessed by something evil.

Recognizing Psychosis (Symptoms)

There are few different factors that are going to be affected because of their mental health disorder.

Physical Appearance: 

  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion in facial expression and gestures
  • Unusual movements of arms, fingers, and hands
  • Unusual behavior in reaction to the individual hallucinating


  • The individual is talking to themselves
  • Sleeping less/more (insomnia)
  • Having trouble functioning in everyday life tasks, including going to school or work
  • Change in appetite
  • Lacking in being organized

Attitudes and Thoughts:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal 


Psychosis is better to treat when you experience the early stage of the symptoms. Individuals who receive help at the very start normally have a faster recovery and less problems related to depression, compared to someone who receives treatment later. With good treatment, individuals don't experience psychosis again. There are a range of different methods to treat psychosis that include:

  • Counselling sessions – Having a safe space can offer emotional support and comfort for the individual. They'll feel more at ease, that it's ok to feel like this and not to be scared about opening up to someone else. The individual can also learn from their counsellor about their health condition. It gives them an opportunity to ask questions including ways on how to self-help. Family therapy could be available to help them cope with living with a family member that suffers from psychosis.
  • Self-care – Improving the way you eat and sleep helps the individual deal with everyday life tasks. It improves their mood as well as their motivation to do things such as reconnecting with family and friends, as well as going back to their hobbies. A professional therapist and experienced social worker can help with the individual's day-to-day living and connect people with community services such as finding a job and going back into education.
  • Medication – Individuals who suffer from psychosis often take antipsychotics, which is a short-term treatment to control symptoms that come along with psychosis. This medicine helps regulate the functioning of the brain, its perspective, and mood.
  • Stress management - Knowing what makes you relapse or trigger your mood is important as it allows you to take control of your health condition before it takes control of you. Stress management can include learning new skills such as relaxation techniques and problem-solving skills.

Assess harm to others. / First Aid for Psychosis

Assess the individual's likelihood in being suicidal or if they're a threat to themselves or others. If yes, move anything dangerous out their sight such as blades, ropes, drugs, and alcohol. The TV being on can affect them as it could be seen as a source of delusions and hallucinations.

  1. Ask if they have a history of self-harm.
  2. Find out if they're planning on taking their own life.
  3. Know what their support system is.
  4. Avoid asking them questions and giving a negative opinion on their illness. Make them feel comfortable.
  5. Ask about their delusions and hallucinations, if the voices that they're experiencing are giving them commands.

Professional Help

Register with a wide range of health care services, including emergency services: 

The Samaritans

Telephone: 08457 90 90 90

To have a chat: Samaritans - Difficult Conversations

Your local GP 

Self-help/ Care

  • Peer support - helps individuals who suffer and go through similar issues to support each other. This builds confidence and motivation within the individual. It'll make them feel better because they know that they aren't alone. Some peer support groups for psychosis include: Bipolar UK and hearing voices network.
  • Recognising your triggers - Keeping a log of things that trigger you is important as it's a step closer towards getting better, knowing that you can identify what is unhealthy for you so you can stay away from it. It helps you have a better understanding about psychosis.
  • Learning to relax - Relaxation techniques can decrease stress levels or symptoms when you're feeling at a peak point.
  • Looking after yourself - Allowing yourself to have enough sleep is important. It helps you deal with situations such as difficult emotions in a simple way rather than letting it overwhelm you.
  • Creating a crisis plan - When you’re going through a bad stage in your life, you may not have the energy and capability telling others what makes you feel better. It's good to talk to someone you trust rather than keeping it to yourself.  
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