What is Psychosis? Definition of Psychosis
The word "psychosis" refers to a range of conditions that affect the mind, in which there has been some loss of contact with reality. A person with psychosis is, at times, unable to tell the difference between what is real and what is just in their minds.
Psychosis is characterized by significant changes in a person’s perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours.
- A person may experience hallucinations (hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and feeling things that actually aren't real) and delusions (unshakable belief in something that is not true and that others do not share).
- Hallucinations and delusions are very real to the person and can be distressing and frightening.
- There can be other changes in thought processes, mood, sleep, and social behaviour. (For more information see Symptoms of Psychosis.)
The experience of psychosis varies greatly from person to person. Each person may have very different symptoms.
Psychosis can result from a number of different causes and can occur in a variety of mental and physical illnesses.
The terms "early psychosis" or "first episode psychosis" mean that an individual is experiencing psychosis for the first time.
Psychotic episodes are periods of time when symptoms of psychosis are strong and interfere with daily life. Although the lengths of these episodes vary from person to person and may only last a few hours or days, psychosis may continue for weeks, months or even years unless the person receives proper treatment.