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Types of psychosis

2-minute read

Psychosis is often a symptom of a psychiatric illness or medical problem. However, having symptoms of psychosis doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has a psychotic illness. More than 3 in 4 episodes of psychosis don’t turn out to be due to an illness.

There are a number of mental illnesses and circumstances that can cause psychosis.

  • Schizophrenia: most people with schizophrenia experience a range of psychotic symptoms and commonly have difficulty organising their thoughts.
  • Bipolar disorder: this is a psychological disorder where a person experiences prolonged episodes of depression or mania (mood elevation) that can lead to psychosis.
  • Drug-induced psychosis: using or withdrawing from alcohol, ice and other amphetamines, LSD, marijuana, ecstasy or magic mushrooms may induce psychotic symptoms that last for short or long periods.
  • Severe depression: people with severe depression can experience psychotic symptoms. This includes postnatal depression, which some women experience after giving birth.
  • Brief psychotic disorder: rarely, a stressful event may prompt psychotic symptoms that last less than 1 month. There is often a quick recovery.
  • Psychosis caused by illness or medicines: psychosis can be caused by chemical derangements in the body and brain from medicines, or because of illnesses affecting normal bodily functions. It can also be the result of damage to brain structures from diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

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.

Sources:

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

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Last reviewed: November 2020


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