Psychosis (also referred to as a psychotic episode) is a mental health problem that causes you to perceive or interpret the world in a completely different way to those around you. The most common types of psychosis are hallucinations or delusions. You might also experience disorganised thinking and speech.

At any point, if you think someone having a psychotic episode is at risk of harming themselves, or you are having one and you feel suicidal, call an ambulance!


The symptoms of psychosis depends on the type. They are:

  • Hallucinations – this is if you see things that other people can’t see, hear things that other people can’t hear, experience sensations that have no apparent cause (e.g. feeling insects crawling on your skin) or see objects that seem to be distorted or are moving in ways that they normally wouldn’t. A common hallucination is hearing voices
  • Delusions – this is if you have a false belief that no one else shares. You will believe it even if it doesn’t logically make sense or if experiences show it to not be true. An example is that you believe that you can control the weather. You can also have paranoid delusions, which are common. For example, you might feel that something or someone is trying to control or kill you (when you have no reason to believe this)
  • Disorganised thinking – this happens as a result of hallucinations and delusions. You may start to feel confused and have racing thoughts, your thoughts may jump from idea to idea, you may start to speak very quickly and quickly change topics of conversation, finding it hard to keep your attention on one thing


Psychosis can be a symptom of many different mental health issues. If you have one of these diagnoses, you might experience psychosis:

  • Schizophrenia 
  • Bipolar Disorder 
  • Severe Depression
  • Postpartum Psychosis

But this is not always the case, you might experience psychosis on its own. These things can trigger it:

  • Drug misuse – street drugs like cannabis or LSD, or it may be a side effect of prescribed medication
  • A traumatic event – trauma may make you more likely to experience psychosis
  • Lack of sleep – if you have a severe lack of sleep, you are likely to hallucinate
  • Bereavement – if you have lost someone, you might feel that you can hear them talking to you
  • Genetics – if a close family member has schizophrenia or has experienced psychosis
  • Spiritual experiences – if you hear voices or see visions spiritually. This might be positive for you but it might be negative (e.g. you believe the devil has possessed you)
  • Physical illnesses – physical illnesses e.g. having a brain tumour or a tumour can make it more likely that you experience psychosis 

How can I help myself?

  • Create a crisis plan – talk to someone you trust about what you would like them to do when you are in a crisis
  • Look after your physical health – get some more sleep, choose a healthier diet and do some exercise!
  • Keep a mood diary – it might also help if you keep a diary of your experiences so you can look back at it, identify triggers and then be able to anticipate stressful situations and deal with them better
  • Learn some relaxation techniques – you might want to try meditation or breathing techniques to stay calm


  • Talking treatments – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) focuses on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and helps you to understand your experiences, teaching you how to recognise and overcome stressful situations
  • Family interventions – this is a form of therapy that includes family and people that you are close with to help you understand any difficulties you are experiencing as a family
  • Medication – you might be prescribed antipsychotic medication to help you with the symptoms of psychosis. If you experience other symptoms too, you might also be prescribed antidepressants or mood stabilisers