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What is psychosis?

Young adult sitting downEveryone experiences times when they feel stressed, confused or very upset; this is a normal response to difficult events and situations.  Feeling any of these things is rarely a sign of mental illness.  However, sometimes these feelings can last for a long time and begin to have a big effect on your life.  This can sometimes lead to what is known as ‘psychosis’ or ‘a psychotic experience’.

Psychotic episodes can occur after a stressful life event, such as losing a close friend or relative. It can also be the result of a physical illness (such as a severe infection) or the use of illegal drugs.  Sometimes it is difficult to know what has caused psychosis.

Psychosis is when your thoughts are disturbed to the point that you lose touch with reality. This type of difficulty can be very distressing.

When you have psychosis, you will usually experience very unusual and sometimes unpleasant thoughts and experiences. They may appear suddenly, making you feel really frightened. They can also creep in so gradually that only people like your close family and friends notice you are behaving oddly or differently.

You may have one or more of the following experiences:

  • Seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling something that other people aren’t experiencing.
  • The most common experience that people have is hearing voices that other people don’t hear. This can be very frightening and can make you believe that you are being watched or picked on.
  • You may think that there is a plot to harm you and feel worried or suspicious about other people.
  • You may believe that you are getting personal messages from the TV or radio.
  • You may feel that you have special powers.
  • You may feel like you cannot think straight. Your ideas may seem jumbled, but it is more than being muddled or confused. Other people might find it very difficult to follow what you say.
  • You may feel worried that other people can read or hear your thoughts.

Having these strange thoughts and experiences can affect you at school, work, home or when with friends. You may find it difficult to concentrate and enjoy your usual activities. They can affect your sleep and appetite.

If you are worried that these experiences are affecting you, or are concerned about a friend or family member, then this website is for you.