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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What treatment and support is available?

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

This does not always mean that the symptoms of psychosis will go away entirely. You may find that you still experience psychosis during and after treatment. But that treatment helps you learn ways of coping so 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 and any possible physical causes of your psychosis.

Your treatment may depend on whether you are diagnosed with a specific mental health problem.

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

What treatment is available?

  • Talking treatments can help you understand your experiences and develop coping strategies to deal with them. You may be offered CBTp. This is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for people experiencing psychosis.
  • Medication. Most people with psychosis will be offered antipsychotic drugs. You may be offered other drugs (for example antidepressants or mood stabilisers) if you experience other symptoms as well. You may also be offered drugs to help reduce side effects caused by the antipsychotics.
  • Family therapy. You may be offered family therapy (sometimes called family intervention or systemic therapy). Family therapy can help you understand any difficulties you are going through as a family.
  • 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.

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

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 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.

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

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

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