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 in their minds.

Psychosis is characterized by significant changes in a person’s perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours.

The terms “early psychosis” or “first episode psychosis” mean that an individual is experiencing psychosis for the first time.

  • 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 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.

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 unless proper treatment is received, psychosis may continue for weeks, months or even years .

Watch this short video that describes how a young man starts to develop psychosis: