Psychosis is a very serious mental health problem, with its symptoms having the potential to have a significant impact on an individual’s life.

It is therefore very important for someone experiencing the symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations or delusions, to visit their Doctor and seek help.

Diagnosing psychosis is important and allows treatment to proceed

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis: Psychosis is a very serious mental health problem that causes an individual to see, perceive or interpret things in very different ways to others. The most well-known signs of psychosis are hallucinations and delusions. Those who suffer from psychosis are said to “lose touch” with reality. Psychosis is a very serious problem that can have severe repercussions on both the individual suffering, and those around them. In rare cases, psychosis can be a positive thing – with some suggesting they can hear the voices of dead loved ones. Unfortunately, the majority of people have serious ill health when suffering from symptoms of psychosis. Psychosis itself isn’t a mental health condition, though is a key part of mental health, and plays a role in several conditions where psychotic episodes are common.


It is important to state that Psychosis itself isn’t actually a condition that is diagnosed.

Instead, psychosis is a symptom of a range of mental health conditions, such as Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia or some Personality disorders among others.

So the psychotic experience that an individual went through can instead be used to assist in the possible diagnosis of a mental health condition.

There is no way of a clinician knowing through a medical examination or laboratory test if an individual had a psychotic episode.

Instead, a doctor will ask the individual a series of questions regarding their symptoms. The possible causes too could be questioned.


Questions may include:

  • Description of the hallucination
  • Details of the delusion
  • How an individual’s mood has been
  • Effect symptoms have had on working life
  • If illegal substances may have caused the psychosis
  • If a prescribed medication may have caused the psychosis
  • Family history of psychosis or mental health condition

It is crucial for an individual to answer each question truthfully – this can assist in an accurate diagnosis being made, and meaning the individual receives the correct treatment.

By getting a full picture of the psychotic episode, the doctor should be able to make a determination on the next steps.

What happens next?

In the vast majority of cases, an individual will be referred to a specialist team for treatment. Evidence suggests psychosis is best treated with early intervention [1].

These specialist teams are often either an Early Intervention Team or Community Mental Health Team. These teams are made up of a group of mental health professionals that treat complex mental health conditions.

In some cases, a further referral will take place to a Crisis Resolution Team. With all of these teams, a full assessment can be carried out.

Meanwhile, if the psychotic episode was seemingly linked to substance abuse, then a form of talking therapy may be preferred.

In rare cases, under the Mental Health Act 1983, an individual with severe psychosis may be compulsorily detained at a secure hospital for assessment and treatment. However, this is very rare.


The sooner an individual seeks help for symptoms of psychosis, the better. Psychosis can have a debilitating effect on an individual’s life, and therefore it is important to take the necessary steps to feel better.

Symptoms can be controlled more and in some cases, full recovery is possible. But seeking treatment is crucial!

See Also


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If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. With the right support and treatment, you can make a recovery. For information on helplines, or if you are in a state of crisis, please visit our crisis page by clicking on the relevant link for your geographical location (United Kingdom), (United States), (International). You can also see how to get mental health treatment and the process involved by clicking this link.


[1] McGorry, P. D., Killackey, E., & Yung, A. (2008). Early intervention in psychosis: concepts, evidence and future directions. World Psychiatry. 7 (3): p148-156. DOI: