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What is Psychosis?

Psychosis is essentially characterised by a loss of touch with reality. And is typically associated with strange behaviours and or beliefs.

The two most common symptoms of psychosis are delusions and hallucinations:

  • Delusions are beliefs that are not based on truth or reality. The belief will be very real to the person and often can be paranoid in nature (delete). People experiencing paranoid delusions often believe there is someone out to get them or a conspiracy against them.
  • Hallucinations can take many forms, the most common of which being: auditory hallucinations, which involve a person hearing voices that others cannot. The voices may or may not be familiar to the person and can be described as being inside or outside of your head. Other hallucinations involve seeing, smelling, and tasting things that others cannot. While these are less common, they are not unusual.


If a person experiences these symptoms, it can cause severe distress and significantly impact their daily functioning. A person may only experience one episode of psychosis in their lifetime. More frequent episodes of psychosis are typically associated with schizophrenia. But having psychotic episodes does not automatically mean you have schizophrenia.


What causes Psychosis?

There are many factors that may cause psychosis, including:

  • suffering a traumatic experience
  • stress
  • drug or alcohol misuse
  • side effects of medication
  • physical causes e.g., a brain tumour.

However, psychosis is more typically associated with specific mental health conditions such as:

  • schizophrenia
  • bi-polar disorder
  • and severe depression.

There are a wide range of symptoms associated with Schizophrenia but it’s primary symptoms include delusions and hallucinations.

Bi-polar is characterised by a person experiencing either very low mood (depression) or episodes of elevated mood (mania) and a person may experience psychotic symptoms during either of these stages.

When a person experiences symptom of psychosis while they are experiencing very low mood, this is known as psychotic depression.


What treats Psychosis?

The treatment for psychosis involves a dual action approach which includes anti-psychotic medication and psychotherapeutic intervention.

  • Anti-psychotic medication is used to treat symptoms of psychosis. Individuals may often have to take this medication for life if their psychotic episodes are frequent but if they remain stable and symptom free medication can be reduced in consultation with their doctor.
  • Psychotherapeutic Intervention: Research has indicated that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an effective way of helping people manage symptoms of psychosis. In Ireland, a CBT group called ‘Hearing Voices’ has been run around the country and has demonstrated good client outcomes. Family members can also be impacted negatively by symptoms of psychosis, in these instances’ family therapy can also be useful. Other talk therapies offered for psychosis include psychodynamic psychotherapy and family therapies, such as systemic therapy.

In addition, as psychosis can impact all aspects of a person’s life, having good social support is positively associated with managing psychosis.

City Therapy’s Approach to Psychosis – BOOK NOW

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an effective way of helping people manage symptoms of psychosis.

Psychodynamic therapy looks at root causes for your psychotic episodes, like unprocessed past experiences and unconscious beliefs you might hold.

Family therapy helps you and your loved ones communicate better and support each other, so that you don’t feel alone with what you are going through and you can work together during times of crisis.

Things to consider that will help you now- Book Now

  • Seek medical advice if you are suffering any of the above symptoms.
  • Other recommendations are related to general ways in which you can keep yourself well;
    • be mindful of your sleep pattern,
    • Try to include exercise into your routine i.e. walk, gym, run,
    • Healthy Diet- reduce fast food intake,
    • Reduce alcohol consumption,
    • Reduce Stress where possible and
    • maintain good social supports.


Further reading & Resources

What is Stress? click here for information

How to manage stress? click here for information

Hearing Voices Ireland click here for information