The Facts

What is psychosis?

Psychosis describes conditions that affect the mind. There is a loss of contact with reality and many of the following symptoms may occur:

Positive symptoms (which reflect a change or increase in regular functioning)

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Feelings of paranoia and suspiciousness
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Disorganized speaking

Negative symptoms (which reflect a decrease or loss “normal” functions)

  • Loss of or decreased motivation
  • Loss of or decreased in ability to take initiate or come up with new ideas
  • Loss of or decreased talking
  • Difficulties expressing emotion
  • Difficulties thinking and/concentrating

Some other problems that may occur concurrently with psychosis are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Difficulties sleeping

It is important to note that although psychosis is usually thought of in association with schizophrenia it is also present to varying degrees in many other mental disorders including:

  • Schizophreniform disorder: A person has some psychotic symptoms for less than six months.
  • Bipolar disorder: With this type of illness, the symptoms of psychosis relate more to mood disturbance than to thought disturbance.
  • Schizoaffective disorder: A person will have symptoms of schizophrenia and symptoms of a mood disturbance, either at the same time or alternating over time.
  • Depression with psychotic features: A person has severe depression and symptoms of psychosis without the mania associated with bipolar disorder.
  • Drug-induced psychosis: The use of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, LSD amphetamines and alcohol can sometimes cause psychotic symptoms to appear.
  • Organic psychosis: Symptoms of psychosis may appear as a result of a physical illness or a head injury.
  • Brief psychotic disorder: This illness usually lasts less than a month. It is usually triggered by a major stress in the person’s life, such as a death in the family.
  • Delusional disorder: This type of psychosis consists of very strong and fixed beliefs in things that are not true.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder: This usually lasts more than a month, and happens after a person has seen or experienced a very traumatic event. The person may have flashbacks or hallucinate.