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.

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My experience of psychosis

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What is psychosis?

Psychosis (also called a psychotic experience or psychotic episode) is when you perceive or interpret reality in a very different way from people around you. You might be said to 'lose touch' with reality.

The most common types of psychosis are

You might also experience

Psychosis affects people in different ways. You might experience it once, have short episodes throughout your life, or live with it most of the time.

You may have a positive experience of psychosis.

For example if you see the faces of loved ones or hear their voices you may find this comforting.

Some people say it helps them understand the world or makes them more creative.

But you may find that psychosis affects your behaviour or disrupts your life, making you feel tired and overwhelmed.

Twelve years on, I can reflect upon my experience as a transformative one.

Hallucinations or delusions could make you feel anxious, scared, threatened or confused. If you have delusions about certain people or organisations, you may find it hard to trust them.

It can also be upsetting if people around you dismiss your experiences as untrue when they seem very real to you. You may feel misunderstood and frustrated if other people don't understand. It might help to share our section for friends and family with them.

The sense of shame and guilt I felt because was I incapable of functioning day-to-day as an adult left me isolated from others and aggressive to those who cared and wanted to help.

Is psychosis a diagnosis or a symptom?

The word psychosis is usually used to refer to an experience. It's a symptom of some mental health problems and not a diagnosis itself.

Doctors and psychiatrists may say someone is experiencing psychosis rather than giving them one of these diagnoses. Some people prefer this.

Psychosis and stigma

There are a lot of misunderstandings about what it means to experience psychosis. Lots of people wrongly think that the word 'psychotic' means 'dangerous'. The media often shows people with psychosis behaving like this even though very few people who experience psychosis ever hurt anyone else.

It's important to remember that you aren't alone and you don't have to put up with people treating you badly. Here are some options for you to think about:

  • Show people this information to help them understand more about psychosis.
  • Talk to other people who experience psychosis by going to a support group - or setting one up for yourself.
  • Get involved in awareness raising about psychosis.
  • Share your experience with others. Mind publishes blogs and video blogs (mental health selfies).
  • Know your rights. Our pages on legal rights provide more information.
  • Take action with Mind. See our campaigning page for details of the different ways you can get involved with helping us challenge stigma.

It's an illness that can be treated just like any other. I don’t choose or want to be psychotic any more than people choose or want any other types of ill health.

My experience of psychosis

Read Louise's story about a difficult time in her life when she experienced psychosis.



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

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