Psychosis

Explains what psychosis is, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

Your stories

My experience of psychosis

Louise
Posted on 24/10/2013

Hearing voices with bipolar disorder

Katie, who has bipolar disorder, describes her experience of hearing voices when she is manic or depressed.

Katie
Posted on 16/12/2014

Mind podcast - Living with psychosis

Reka describes her three very different episodes of psychosis and why she'd rather have another one than take

Posted on 13/03/2013

What types of psychosis are there?

This page covers:

Hallucinations

Hallucinations could include:

  • seeing things that other people don't (for example people's faces, animals or religious figures)
  • seeing objects that seem to be distorted or move in ways that they usually wouldn't
  • experiencing tastes, smells and sensations that have no apparent cause (for example feeling insects crawling on your skin)
  • hearing voices that other people don't (these could be positive and helpful or hostile and nasty)

I felt as though I was in wonderland. None of my family or friends understood why... I had a calling from a voice in sky. I was lost and lonely.

Delusions

Lots of people have beliefs that many other people don't share. But a delusion is usually a false belief that noone else shares. You will still believe it even if logically it doesn't make sense, or if experiences show that it can't be true.

For example, you might think you are a very important person - for example you may believe that you are rich and powerful or that you can control the stock markets or the weather. These kind of beliefs are sometimes called delusions of grandeur.

Some delusions can be very frightening and can make you feel threatened. For example you might feel that something or someone is trying to control, harm or kill you (when you have no reason to believe this). These ideas are sometimes called paranoid delusions.

Watch Miles talk about his experieces of paranoia and hearing voices.

Disorganised thinking and speech

Hallucinations and delusions can make your thoughts and emotions feel confused and disorganised.

But disorganised thinking (sometimes called 'formal thought disorder') can also be a type of psychosis.

Racing thoughts is where thoughts go through your head very fast. If you have racing thoughts you usually have flight of ideas too.

Flight of ideas is where your thoughts move very quickly from idea to idea, making links that other people don't.

Racing ideas flooded my mind. It seemed as though my mind was disintegrating, my inner life – my unconscious mind – started flooding my consciousness without a break.

If you have disorganised thinking you might:

  • speak very quickly and stumble over your words. Other people may find it difficult to understand what you're saying
  • link words together because of the way they sound rather than what they mean. This can mean your speech sounds jumbled and doesn't make sense to other people. This is sometimes called word salad
  • change the topic of conversation very quickly as your thoughts move from one thing to another
  • find it difficult to keep your attention on one thing

You may also have racing thoughts and flight of ideas if you experience mania or hypomania. If you only have them during a depressive, manic or mixed episode then you may be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. See our pages on bipolar disorder for more information.

Watch Alice, Brian, Jamie, Martin and Louise talk about their experiences of psychosis as part of being diagnosed with schizophrenia.


This information was published in August 2016. We will revise it in 2019.


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