What is psychosis?
In a psychotic episode, a person loses touch with reality as other people see it. They might hear voices, see or feel things that aren't there, feel paranoid or believe things that don't rationally make sense. These symptoms are there for most of the time for several weeks.
Although it can be scary, psychosis is treatable. Some people have one episode of psychosis and never have another one, while others might need ongoing treatment.
The symptoms of psychosis
Common symptoms of psychosis include:
- hallucinations where you see, feel, smell or hear things that aren't there
- delusions, where you 'just know' things that seem unreal to other people e.g. paranoid beliefs that there is a conspiracy against you
- feeling that you're being followed or your life is in danger
- muddled thinking and difficulty concentrating
- a feeling that you're being controlled by something outside yourself
- feeling like time speeds up or slows down
Other people might notice symptoms of psychosis before you do. This is because psychosis can make you feel like things are normal when they're not.
Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by psychosis. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.
What to do about psychosis
Take the first step
Talk to someone straight away and ask for help. Choose someone you like and trust, like a teacher, relative, counsellor or friend.
You should also see your GP. They may offer to refer you to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), an expert or a psychiatrist who can help.
Tips from young people who've been through psychosis
Experiencing psychosis can be scary and can make you feel like you're alone, but you're not.
We asked some young people who have experienced psychosis what advice they would give someone going through it. Here's what they said.
“First of all if you can, try and identify exactly what you are struggling with (e.g. voices, delusions, hallucinations etc.) and talk to a parent or teacher.”
“Tell someone that you need help and explain all the thoughts that are going around in your head.”
“It will be helpful to see the GP as they may be able to give you more support and advise medications that may help.”
Psychosis is usually treated using medications called antipsychotics or neuroleptics.
You may also be offered counselling or therapy to help you get over the experience of psychosis. For some people, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can really help with this.
Get help now
Where to get help
Whatever you're experiencing, if you're worried or struggling to cope, you are not alone. Here are some services that can support you.
Text YM to 85258.
Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.
All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.
Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.
- Opening times:
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
- Opening times: