Psychosis is a serious symptom of certain mental health problems. It also can be caused by some physical disease, traumatic experiences, or drugs and toxins. Psychosis involves perceiving reality differently from those around you. The difference between reality and what you think is reality becomes blurred in your mind.

There are different kinds of psychosis, depending on the cause:

  • Health problems such as infections, thyroid disorders, some cancers, sleep deprivation, low or high blood sugar levels, or dementia

  • Drug-induced from drugs such as alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, or PCP

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Depression

  • Schizophrenia


The symptoms of psychosis may not all be the same for each person. But they usually involve:

  • Hallucinations. Seeing, hearing, feeling, or even tasting or smelling things that are not there.

  • Delusions. Believing something that's not true, or false beliefs that are not part of a person's religious or cultural background.

There may also be disturbances in thinking, speech, and behavior. These can include:

  • Hearing voices that others don't hear

  • Seeing things that others don't see

  • Racing thoughts

  • Lack of energy

  • Feeling very fearful

  • Disorganized speech

  • Intentional or unintentional bodily harm to others

  • Paranoia

  • Trouble thinking or concentrating clearly

  • Depression, feeling suicidal

  • Insomnia

  • Withdrawal from those around you

Treatment for psychosis depends on the cause. Medicine is often used, with or without psychotherapy. You may need to stay in the hospital. This is to protect you and to carefully monitor medicines.

Home care

  • Find a healthcare provider and therapist who meet your needs. Seek help when you feel like your symptoms are returning.

  • Be sure to take your medicine as directed even if you think you don't need it. Never stop your medicine or change the dose without talking with your provider. Never use another person's medicine.

  • If you have trouble paying for your prescription, let your providers know so they can help you find resources.

  • Talk with your family about your feelings and thoughts. Ask them to help you recognize any behavior changes so you can get help and, if needed, medicines can be adjusted.

  • Contact your provider if you feel like your medicine is not working and changes need to be made.

Follow-up care is critical

It's important to manage your condition by staying in close and regular contact with your healthcare team. Always follow up with your counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist as advised.

Don't skip taking your medicine or change it without talking with your healthcare team. Take it as directed even if you think you don't need it.


  • Be certain to tell each of your healthcare providers about all of the prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, illegal drugs, vitamins, and supplements you take. Certain supplements interact with medicines. This can result in dangerous side effects. Ask your pharmacist when you have questions about drug interactions. Tell your provider if you use alcohol and, if you do, how often and how much you drink.

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all your medical conditions and any recent illnesses, such as infections.

  • Follow-up with lab tests as advised by your healthcare provider. Lab work is very important and can tell your provider the blood level of certain medicines. They can see if your dose needs to be increased or decreased.

Call 911

Call 911 if you:

  • Have suicidal thoughts, a suicide plan, and the means to carry out the plan

  • Hear voices that are telling you to harm yourself or others

  • Have trouble breathing

  • Are very confused

  • Are very drowsy or have trouble awakening

  • Faint or lose consciousness

  • Have a rapid heart rate, very low heart rate, or a new irregular heart rate

  • Have a seizure

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Gradual or rapid return of psychotic symptoms

  • Feeling like you want to harm yourself or another

  • Feeling extremely depressed

  • Feeling very anxious, agitated, or angry

  • Feeling out of control or being controlled by others

  • Unable to care for yourself

  • Seeing things or hearing voices that you know aren't real

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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