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Diagnosis of psychosis

2-minute read

The first step towards finding out if you or someone else is experiencing psychosis is to see a doctor or to contact a community mental health team via your local hospital.

Young people can visit a headspace centre. headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation and provides early intervention mental health services to 12 to 25-year-olds. Centres are located across metropolitan, regional and rural areas of Australia.

Psychosis assessment

A health professional will do a complete mental health assessment through an interview and may also wish to speak to a relative for more information. The purpose of the assessment is to find out:

  • if the person is experiencing psychosis
  • what might be causing it
  • if there's an underlying mental illness
  • what's the relevant family and medical history
  • what's the best course of treatment.

When someone has an episode of psychosis, a full medical examination is required. The person will need to be observed by a team of mental health professionals, either at home or in hospital.

Different tests may be required to work out the diagnosis and any underlying causes. Tests may include:

  • Medical tests: There are a range of tests the doctor may perform, such as blood tests for abnormal electrolyte and hormone levels or for syphilis and other infections. These tests can help work out the cause of the psychosis.
  • Drug checks: Some drugs, such as LSD, marijuana and amphetamines, can cause psychosis. It’s important for a health professional to understand whether symptoms are associated with drug use.
  • Brain scans: Sometimes doctors will scan the brain, using an MRI to check for any abnormalities.

Psychosis is treatable, so it’s important to seek help. A diagnosis is a start on the way to recovery.

Where to get help

If you need help, would like to find out more or talk to someone else, here are some organisations that can help:

  • SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) – call 1800 18 7263.
  • beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) – call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
  • Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) – online help.
  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) – call 13 11 14 or chat online.
  • Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) – call 1300 659 467.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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