Psychosis is a mental disorder where a person loses the capacity to tell what’s real from what isn’t. They may believe or sense things that aren’t real and become confused or slow in their thinking. Most people think of psychosis as a break from reality. In a way it is.

Two of the main symptoms are delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are false beliefs, such as thinking that someone is plotting against you or that the TV is sending you secret messages. Hallucinations are false perceptions, such as hearing, seeing, or feeling something that is not there.

Schizophrenia is one type of psychotic disorder. People with bipolar disorder may also have psychotic symptoms.

Psychosis often occurs as a part of other mental illnesses. It is treatable.


Illnesses that can cause psychosis include:

● brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and some chromosomal disorders

brain tumors or cysts

Some types of dementia may result in psychosis, such as that caused by:

Alzheimer’s disease

● HIV, syphilis, and other infections that attack the brain

● some types of epilepsy



It’s sometimes possible to identify the cause of psychosis as a specific mental health condition, such as:

● Schizophrenia – a condition that causes a range of psychological symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions

Bipolar disorder – a mental health condition that affects mood; a person with bipolar disorder can have episodes of low mood (depression) and highs or elated mood (mania)

● Severe depression – some people with depression also have symptoms of psychosis when they’re very depressed


Treatment for psychosis involves using a combination of:

● antipsychotic medication – which can help relieve the symptoms of psychosis

● psychological therapies – the one-to-one talking therapy cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has proved successful in helping people with schizophrenia; in appropriate cases, family therapy has been shown to reduce the need for hospital treatment in people with psychosis

● social support – support with social needs, such as education, employment, or accommodation

Most people with psychosis who get better with medication need to continue taking it for at least a year. Some people need to take medication long-term to prevent symptoms from recurring.

If a person’s psychotic episodes are severe, they may need to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital.