What is Psychosis?

Psychosis is a mental health problem that causes people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them. This might involve hallucinations or delusions.

What are The Common Causes?

  • mental illnesses (e.g. schizophrenia)
  • medical illnesses (e.g. epilepsy)
  • substances such as alcohol or drugs

What are the Symptoms and Signs?

  • Symptoms are abnormal experiences—perceptions, thoughts, or feelings that are difficult to express or for others to understand
  • Signs are abnormal behaviors others can observe
  • Hallucinations—seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
  • Delusions—believing things that aren’t true, and are often impossible
  • Thought disorder—trouble putting thoughts in order or keeping track of usual tasks
  • Lack of insight and self-awareness

In combination, hallucinations and disordered thinking can severely disrupt perception, thinking, emotion, and behavior.


  • Sight—seeing colors, shapes, people, or animals that aren’t there
  • Sounds—hearing indistinct noises or voices  that may be angry or critical
  • Smell—strange or unpleasant  odors 
  • Taste—some people with psychosis have complained of a constant unpleasant taste in their mouth


  • A delusion is a belief that is often unshakeable and can seem implausible or even bizarre to outsiders
  • Delusions can include paranoid or grandiose ideas 
  • A person with psychosis will often believe an individual or organization is making plans to hurt or kill them. This can lead to unusual behavior

Confused Thoughts

  • Can lead to disorganized or halting speech
  • Can cause a person to switch from one  topic to another mid-sentence, lose their train of thought, or abruptly pause in conversation or activity

Lack of Insight

  • People who have psychotic episodes are often unaware their behavior is strange, or that their delusions or hallucinations are not real
  • They may recognize delusional or bizarre  behavior in others but lack the self- awareness to recognize it in themselves


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