Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Diagnosis of psychosis

3-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 electrolytes, hormone levels or 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 187 263.
  • 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.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2018

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Postpartum psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is a serious mental illness that can develop in mothers soon after childbirth. If you think you might have it, see a doctor immediately.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

What is psychosis? | Psychotic disorders | ReachOut Australia

Find out what psychosis is and its possible causes, the symptoms of psychosis, the different types of psychosis, and what you can do if you experience a psychotic episode.

Read more on website

Postpartum psychosis - COPE

Centre of Perinatal Excellence

Read more on COPE - Centre of Perinatal Excellence website

Schizophrenia | Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Read about the risks, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia and Garvan's research for better management and outcomes.

Read more on Garvan Institute of Medical Research website

Getting help for postnatal mental health conditions - COPE

Centre of Perinatal Excellence

Read more on COPE - Centre of Perinatal Excellence website

Types of depression

There are different types of depressive disorders, with symptoms ranging from relatively minor (but still disabling) through to very severe (major or clinical depression)

Read more on Beyond Blue website

Hallucinations and false ideas in dementia -

People with dementia sometimes experience hallucinations and delusions which seem real to them, but there are ways that families and carers can deal with them.

Read more on myDr website

Borderline personality disorder -

Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness that makes it difficult to manage feelings and impulses. Learn what you can do to start feeling better.

Read more on myDr website

Methamphetamine, brain chemistry and treatment outcomes - Alcohol and Drug Foundation

For those looking to end methamphetamine dependence, the gold standard is generally considered to be long-term residential treatment coupled with ongoing counselling. But even with this gold standard treatment, relapse rates are high.

Read more on Alcohol and Drug Foundation website

Clozapine in primary care | Australian Prescriber

Clozapine is the most effective antipsychotic, but is reserved for people with schizophrenia who have not adequately responded to two other antipsychotics.

Read more on Australian Prescriber website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo