Psychosis is a mental health problem that causes people to lose touch with reality as other people see it, and interpret things differently to those around them.

It can be a symptom of a serious mental health condition such as bipolar disorder with psychotic features or schizoaffective disorder, or schizophrenia. Experiencing the symptoms of psychosis is commonly referred to as having a psychotic episode.

There are two main symptoms of psychosis:

  • Hallucinations – where you hear, see and, in some cases, feel, smell or taste things that aren't there; a common example is hearing voices
  • Delusions – where you have strong beliefs that aren't shared by others; a common delusion is believing there is a conspiracy to harm you
A person who develops psychosis will have their own unique set of symptoms and experiences that are according to their particular circumstances. Other symptoms can include:

  • Feeling that you're being followed or your life is in danger
  • Muddled thinking and difficulty concentrating
  • A feeling that something outside yourself is controlling you
  • A feeling that time speeds up or slows down.

Just because you are experiencing some of these symptoms, that doesn't mean you are affected by psychosis, but it's really important to get the support you need as quickly as you can. Because of its symptoms, psychosis can cause a significant change in behaviour and be very frightening – but it is treatable. A psychotic episode might happen just once, or it could be an ongoing problem that needs longer term treatment. Psychosis is usually treated using medications called anti-psychotics or neuroleptics, but there are also specialist teams who can provide support to help you.