What is it?
‘Psychosis’ is a word used to describe certain experiences (sometimes called symptoms) which can be confusing and distressing. People experiencing psychosis may have trouble telling the difference between what is real and what is not real. It can start with small changes in thoughts and behaviour like being more withdrawn, feeling anxious and agitated, things not feeling ‘quite right’.
Other people may notice a change in behaviour and character before the person experiencing psychosis does. Understanding what causes psychosis can be tricky as lots of things are thought to play a part, including life stresses, genetics and psychological factors.
Although it can be really scary, psychosis can often be really well managed with the right support. Some people experience an episode of psychosis once in their lives, whilst others may have more.
Signs of psychosis
Delusions are fixed, false beliefs that are not based in reality. They can come in many forms and can be quite bizarre. Delusions may cause a person to feel paranoid and suspicious of others, they may feel others are out to get them, or they may believe they’re being followed. Some people may think they have powers that other people don’t have, or feel like other people can read their thoughts.
Delusions can be really frustrating because often other people will just dismiss them by saying thing like ‘you’re wrong’ or ‘don’t be so stupid’. It’s hard for people to change their mind about what they feel and believe, no matter what other people may tell them. It can feel really upsetting if others dismiss a person’s beliefs when they are so real for them.
These include hearing voices and seeing things, which other people cannot. Hallucinations can also be smelling or tasting things or feeling physical sensations when there’s no apparent cause. Hallucinations are very real for the person experiencing them. They can be very scary, confusing and distressing, though some people have positive experiences such as seeing or hearing loved ones, which they may find comforting.
Some people find that their thoughts have become mixed up and difficult to understand. Thoughts may seem as if they have sped up or slowed down, and other people may struggle to keep up with or make sense of what the person is saying. Muddled thoughts can cause problems with concentration and with focusing and remembering things.
These experiences can cause people to:
What should I do if I think I am experiencing psychosis?
If you feel that you are experiencing some of these signs and symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are affected by psychosis. It is important to speak to someone if you are worried; choose someone you trust such as a relative, a teacher or a good friend and tell them how you are feeling. Visiting a GP or contacting your local CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) as soon as possible is the first step; the earlier you are supported, the quicker you can start on your recovery journey.
Psychosis can be successfully managed with a range of interventions and support and treatment. Medication might be prescribed to help with distressing thoughts and feelings. You may also be encouraged to engage in therapy/counselling to help you and your family understand psychosis. Engaging in support groups/online forums suggested below can be helpful in your recovery.
Real Life Experience
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