Psychosis is a term used to describe a range of different experiences in which people have unusual experiences or ideas.
Psychosis causes people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them; they can also hear, see or feel things that others cannot.
Psychosis is common amongst a large age group and can affect people from all backgrounds. Between 1 – 3% of people will experience psychosis at some point in their life.
There is evidence that some people are more prone to having psychosis like experiences than others, and these can happen for a range of reasons. For many people this will never translate into a problem that affects their life but for some people a combination of this, hereditary and life stressors, or other biological factors like using drugs can lead to psychosis experiences which are distressing and for which help is needed. Sometimes this predisposition can cause someone problems at a time in their lives but not at others. ,
Someone experiencing psychosis often shows some of the following signs and are often unaware that they’re thinking and acting in an unusual way:
Unusual experiences “hallucinations” :
- Hearing voices which others cannot hear, or hearing ‘hidden messages’ in what people are saying which others are not aware of (could be both positive or negative)
- Seeing things that no one else can see, or seeing objects move in a way they usually wouldn’t
- Feeling, tasting or smelling things that others can’t sense
Unusual ideas ”delusions”:
- Believing things that do not appear to be true or based on reality
- Believing an organisation or individual is planning to cause them harm in some way (this is sometimes called paranoia)
- Elaborate ideas, such as thinking they are significant or special in a way others would not agree with, or that they have unusual or special powers or abilities.
- Difficulty putting thoughts or speech in order
- Switching unexpectedly from one topic to the next
People experiencing a first episode of psychosis may become withdrawn or distant from family and friends and may be exhibiting unusual behaviour, perhaps seeming suspicious or hostile to others.
The good news is that there is help available for people experiencing psychosis.