Signs, Symptoms, and Effects of Psychosis

Greenleaf Behavioral Health Hospital is a leading provider of compassionate, comprehensive treatment for men and women who have been struggling with psychosis. Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of psychosis can be an important step on your path to improved quality of life.

Understanding Psychosis

Learn about psychosis

The term “psychosis” is typically used to describe a psychological disconnection from reality. An episode of psychosis may involve visual or auditory hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, and disordered thoughts or speech.

Psychosis is not a form of mental illness. In most cases, psychosis is a symptom of a mental health disorder, though it can also be caused by some physical conditions. Psychosis can also result from substance abuse, as well as from taking certain prescription medications.

Psychosis is treatable. Various forms of therapy, medication, and other supports have helped many people overcome their struggles with psychosis. With effective comprehensive care, people who have experienced psychosis can achieve significantly improved quality of life.


Statistics about psychosis

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has reported the following statistics about psychosis:

  • About 3% of Americans will experience psychosis at least once.
  • Every year, about 100,000 Americans (typically adolescents and young adults) have their first episode of psychosis.
  • The average time between a person’s first episode of psychosis and the beginning of treatment is about two years.

Causes & Risks

Causes and risk factors for psychosis

As noted in the “Understanding Psychosis” section, psychosis can be a symptom of a mental health disorder or a physical condition. It can also result from taking certain prescription medications, or abusing alcohol or other drugs. Thus, it is virtually impossible to identify all possible causes of psychosis. However, the following are among the factors that may increase your risk for psychosis:

  • Age (first episodes of psychosis most commonly occur among older teens and young adults)
  • Family history of certain types of mental illness
  • Suffering a head injury or other type of brain trauma
  • Developing schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or certain other mental health disorders
  • Being abused or enduring other adverse experiences during childhood
  • Engaging in substance abuse

Signs & Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of psychosis

A person who is in the midst of an episode of psychosis may experience a wide range of signs and symptoms, including the following:

  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
  • Delusions (believing things that are demonstrably false)
  • Depersonalization (feeling of being detached from one’s body or mind)
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Self-harm
  • Shakes or tremors
  • Disorganized speech
  • Strange or otherwise inappropriate behaviors
  • Being overly emotional or being incapable of showing any emotion
  • Not responding to external stimuli
  • Suicidal thoughts


Effects of psychosis

It is difficult to overstate the negative impact that untreated psychosis can have on a person’s life. Failing to receive effective professional treatment for psychosis can lead to a wide range of negative outcomes, including the following:

  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Onset or worsening of mental health disorders
  • Strained or ruined personal relationships
  • Inability to work or attend school
  • Job loss and chronic unemployment
  • Physical injury due to behaviors during episodes of psychosis
  • Arrest or incarceration due to behaviors during episodes of psychosis
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions

It is important to understand that psychosis is treatable. With the right type and level of professional care, people who have been experiencing psychosis can achieve improved quality of life.

Continuing Care

Common co-occurring disorders with psychosis

Psychosis can be a symptom of various mental or behavioral health disorders, including the following:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Substance use disorders
  • Alzheimer’s disease
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