Psychosis: The Basics
Psychosis refers to experiences when it is difficult for a person to tell what is real from what is not.
What is psychosis?
Psychosis refers to experiences when it is difficult for a person to tell what is real and what is not real. Perceptions (vision, hearing, smell, touch, and taste) are altered, making things that are not real seem real.
- Thinking becomes jumbled and unrealistic ideas develop.
- Feelings and emotions towards self, others, or the outside world change or are exaggerated.
- These challenges with figuring out what’s real may trigger feelings of dread, panic, fear, or anxiety.
When psychosis happens:
- Symptoms may start gradually and only appear occasionally.
- There is a period of time when symptoms are very strong and get in the way of a person’s life.
- It may last only a short period of time or it may continue off and on for weeks, months or even years unless the person receives medical care.
- There may be a wish to deny or be secretive about what is happening because of the fear of being different.
Psychosis is often a very frightening experience for the individual experiencing it. If you are concerned about some experiences you’ve been having take the Questioning Reality Self-check to see if something is going on for you.
What can lead to psychosis?
There no single thing that leads to psychosis. Some things that may trigger episodes of psychosis include:
- Drugs or other substances
- Prescription medications
- Traumatic events
- Physical illness
- Biological factors, including genetics
Getting help early is important to recover faster and to reduce the negative impact psychosis may have. Specialized early psychosis treatments and services are available.
- Talk with an adult you trust and tell them you have been having some unusual experiences. Check out Tips for Talking to Someone for help getting started.
- Find out if there is an Early Psychosis Intervention Program (EPI Program) in your community.
- Make an appointment to see your family doctor.
- Not sure where to start? You can call 1-800-668-6868 or chat online with Kids Help Phone.
If you want to learn more about the early signs or find out if this is something you are experiencing here are a few options.