Psychosis is a symptom of serious mental illness and if you are experiencing symptoms of psychosis it is a sign that you are not well and need support. Psychotic symptoms are very rare, affecting only 0.7% of the UK population.
However, psychosis can be treated with therapy or medication or both, and people go on from experiencing a psychotic episode to study, have a family and live a ‘normal’ life.
It is important to get help to ensure you get the support you need as early as possible.
A person experiencing psychosis loses touch with what is usually accepted as reality. They may feel paranoid, see things that aren’t there, hear voices or have delusions, or have confused thoughts.
People who develop psychosis often have their first experience of this or ‘episode’ in their teens or early 20s. They may only have one episode, or can go on to have them throughout their lives.
Early signs of psychosis include:
- Withdrawal and loss of interest in usual activities
- Loss of energy or motivation
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Problems with work or study
- Lack of emotional response or inappropriate emotional display
- Changes or problems with sleep or appetite
- Unusual ideas or behaviour
- Feeling changed in some way.
These symptoms might present in lots of young people, including those that do not have a mental health issue. They also overlap with other diagnoses such as depression. If you are worried that what you are experiencing is more that what can be tolerated, or it is interfering with your daily functioning, you should speak to your GP in the first instance and they can refer to CAMHS if needed.
People with psychosis may experience distressing symptoms such as:
- Hallucinations - hearing voices no-one else hears, seeing things that aren't there, or feeling, smelling or tasting unusual sensations with no obvious cause
- Believing others can influence their thoughts, or they can influence the thoughts of others or control events
- Believing they are being watched, followed or persecuted by others or that their life is in danger
- Feeling their thoughts have sped up or slowed down
- Thinking or talking in a confused way.
Psychosis can be part of the symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. People can also experience psychotic episodes due to severe stress or depression or as a result of drug or alcohol use. It is believed there is a particular link with cannabis use. People who have a history of mental illness in their family are more likely to develop psychosis.