This page is for informational purposes only — if you need help for psychosis, please contact Vertava Health to connect with a professional and receive individualized treatment and support today.

Overview Of Psychosis

When psychosis occurs, you might experience distortions to your normal thoughts and the way you perceive the world around you. This may happen on a gradual basis rather than suddenly, so it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Psychosis is likely a frightening experience for those who experience it, but treatment is available. Starting treatment for psychosis as early as possible helps lower the risk of a severe episode.

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Symptoms Of Psychosis

The symptoms of psychosis can vary from person to person, but they mainly include hallucinations or delusions.

Hallucinations occur when you feel or observe things that don’t exist. For example, you might hear voices, feel odd sensations, or see objects or people that aren’t really there.

Delusions occur when you experience intense beliefs that are likely irrational. For example, you might be convinced that an outside or external force has control over your behavior or thoughts.

Delusions might cause you to think you possess special abilities or powers or believe that a casual comment or insignificant event has special importance or meaning.

Symptoms: Warning Signs Before Psychosis

Since psychosis likely occurs on a gradual basis, knowing the early warning signs can help ensure prompt treatment. These warning signs can be hard to detect, especially in teens and young adults.

If any of the following early warnings signs occur, treatment should be strongly encouraged to prevent symptoms from becoming severe:

  • having difficulty focusing or thinking clearly
  • forgetting to practice self-care or basic personal hygiene, such as not bathing or brushing hair
  • experiencing a lack or absence of emotions
  • having intense emotions that are considered inappropriate
  • choosing to spend most time alone rather than with others
  • feeling suspicious or paranoid of others or being uncomfortable with others
  • having a decline in work or academic performance

Symptoms: Early Or First-Episode Psychosis

Figuring out when early or first-episode psychosis starts to occur can be hard, but knowing the symptoms to watch for can help. These symptoms often indicate that an individual is experiencing a negative impact on their physical and mental well-being that is getting worse.

The symptoms of early or first-episode psychosis to be on the lookout for include:

  • suddenly forgetting about self-care or neglecting personal hygiene
  • becoming withdrawn from loved ones and spending more time alone
  • feeling no emotions or having intense/inappropriate emotions
  • having difficulty focusing or thinking clearly
  • having hallucinations or delusions

Causes And Risk Factors

The exact causes of psychosis aren’t clearly understood, although certain factors are believed to be associated with it. For example, hormonal changes that affect the brain during puberty are linked to a higher risk of psychosis in teenagers and young adults.

Certain factors can increase the risk of experiencing psychosis, including:

  • genetic factors, although the presence of certain genes doesn’t necessarily mean psychosis will occur
  • substance use, such as amphetamine use or LSD use, can put some individuals at a higher risk of psychosis
  • traumatic events, such as assault or the death of a loved one, although this risk also depends on the type of traumatic event involved and an individual’s age
  • mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, can have psychosis as a symptom
  • medical conditions or physical injuries, such as severe brain injuries, Parkinson’s, dementia, brain tumors, or strokes

How Is Psychosis Diagnosed?

A psychosis diagnosis likely includes a physical exam and a close look at your family history and personal medical history. Physical exams can check for underlying conditions that might need treatment, such as infections or tumors.

Mental health professionals can diagnose a disorder that might be causing psychosis, such as schizophrenia. Keep in mind that the earlier treatment is started for psychosis, the greater chance there is of managing it and getting a better outcome on a long-term basis.

Treating Psychosis

Treatment options for psychosis depend on whether or not it’s a case of first-episode psychosis, how severe it is, and other factors, such as the presence of a mental health disorder.

Treatment plans likely include multiple ways to manage psychosis and reduce the risk of having it occur again. These options may include:

  • medication to help relieve symptoms
  • psychotherapy to help you understand what you’re experiencing and how to manage it
  • case management involving input from a team of healthcare professionals
  • family education and support to help family members understand what their loved one is going through and learn how to be supportive
  • supported education and employment to provide you with a safe, high-quality learning or working environment to help you maintain a good quality of life
  • peer support to gain emotional support from others who are experiencing or have experienced psychosis in the past