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Treatment for psychosis

3-minute read

Recent advances in therapies mean that psychosis is now more treatable than ever before.

Treatment usually involves medicine, education about the illness, counselling, family support and practical support. Avoiding drugs, reducing stress and learning ways to cope with stress can help prevent psychosis symptoms from coming back.

Treatment may require a team of mental health professionals including a psychiatrist, mental health nurses, occupational therapists or psychologists. Treatment for illnesses that cause psychosis can last 2 to 5 years, or sometimes longer.

  • Early intervention: Research has suggested the best outcomes for treatment occur when psychosis is detected and treated early, before the illness has a chance to develop.
  • Medicine: A person with psychosis may be prescribed antipsychotic medicines. Treatments work by altering chemicals in the brain, including dopamine. Antipsychotics usually take several weeks to reduce symptoms, such as hallucinations or paranoia. But they may immediately produce a calming effect and help the person to sleep. Antipsychotic medicines may cause side effects, so it is important to find the right medicine for each person.
  • Psychological therapy: There are several psychological treatments available to people who are experiencing psychosis, depending on their individual needs. These include supportive psychotherapy, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), family therapy and self-help groups.
  • Community support programs: Mental health services can also provide practical support for people with psychosis. Stable accommodation, financial security, social support and having a meaningful role in society are essential components of recovery. People suffering from long-term psychosis may require rehabilitation and assistance to find suitable work.

If someone is experiencing psychosis, their doctor can help put them in touch with the best people to treat the psychosis and support them through treatment. Professional help will make managing the symptoms much easier.

If there is a risk of the person causing harm to themselves or others, then seek urgent medical help with a doctor or at a local hospital emergency department. Any risk of suicide must be treated as a medical emergency and an ambulance should be called by dialing triple zero (000).

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.
  • Beyond Blue (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.


headspace (what is psychosis & the effects on mental health), SANE (Psychosis)

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Last reviewed: November 2020

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