for better mental health

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.

What treatments are there for psychosis?

For many people, there is no quick and simple treatment for psychosis, but with the right support it is possible to manage the symptoms of psychosis and recover.

This does not mean that the experience of psychosis will go away entirely. You may find that you still experience symptoms during and after treatment. What treatment can do though is help you learn ways of coping so that your experiences are less distressing and don't interfere with your life as much.

How do doctors decide my treatment?

Before you start any treatment, your mental health professionals should discuss all your options with you and listen to what you want. They should look at all aspects of your life including your environment, culture and ethnicity, and any possible physical causes of your psychosis.

Your treatment may depend on whether you are diagnosed with a specific mental health problem. It may be that psychosis is one of several symptoms you're experiencing, which will influence what treatment you are offered.

An advocate can help you get the treatment you need. See our pages on advocacy for more information.

What treatment is available?

  • Talking therapies can help you understand your experiences and develop coping strategies to deal with them. You may be offered 'cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis' (sometimes called CBTp). This is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) specifically for people experiencing psychosis.
  • Anti-psychotic medication is offered to most people with psychosis, as a way of managing symptoms. You may also be offered other drugs (for example antidepressants or mood stabilisers) if you experience mood based symptoms, as well as additional medication to help reduce the side effects caused by the antipsychotics.
  • Arts therapies can help you express how you are feeling in different ways. They can be helpful if you are having difficulty talking about your experience.
  • Family intervention focuses on helping family members talk to each other about what helps, solve problems and plan for a crisis. Your GP will be able to find out if this is available in your area.

"My antipsychotic medication saved my life. It took many tries to get the right medication for me."

What other support can I get?

Early intervention (EI) teams

Early intervention (EI) teams work with you during your first experience of psychosis. They usually include people who can help you in different ways. For example:

  • psychiatrists
  • psychologists
  • community mental health nurses
  • social workers
  • support workers.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that early intervention services should be open to people of all ages. But some places only offer services to people under a certain age – usually under 35. Rethink mental illness has more information about early intervention teams.

Community care

If you experience psychosis a lot or it lasts a long time, you may be referred to community care services to help you cope. The phrase 'community care' is used to describe the various services available to help you manage your physical and mental health problems in the community. This might include:

  • your community mental health team (CMHT)
  • nursing or social work support
  • home help
  • day centres
  • supported accommodation.

Community care can also include crisis services and early intervention teams.

If you become very distressed during an episode of psychosis you may need to be cared for in hospital. See our pages on hospital admission for more information on this.

"A stay in intensive care saved my life, followed by three months on a psychiatric ward."

This information was published in January 2020. We will revise it in 2023.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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