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What is Psychosis? You should know...

(reprinted from a Canadian Mental Health Association booklet and some editing. February 2000)


Psychosis is a serious but treatable medical condition that reflects

a disturbance in brain functioning. A person with psychosis experiences some loss of contact with reality, characterized by changes in their way of thinking, believing, perceiving and/or behaving. For the person experiencing psychosis, the condition can be very disorienting and distressing. Without effective treatment, psychosis can overwhelm the lives of individuals and families.

Psychosis is a medical condition that affects the brain. It can be treated.

A person with psychosis may:

  • experience confused thoughts
  • feel their thoughts have sped up or slowed down
  • feel preoccupied with unusual ideas
  • believe that others can manipulate their thoughts; or that they can manipulate the thoughts of others
  • perceive voices or visions that no one else can hear or see
  • feel "changed" in some way
  • act differently than they usually would

Sometimes psychosis emerges gradually over time, so that in the early stages symptoms might be dismissed or ignored. Other times, symptoms appear suddenly and are very obvious to the individual and those around them. Symptoms can vary from person to person and can change over time. The initial experience of psychotic symptoms is know as the "first episode" of psychosis.

It is important to pay attention to possible symptoms and seek help early.