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Psychosis can be defined as a serious mental disorder characterized by loss of contact with reality and by significantly worsening habitual social functioning. People with psychosis present abnormalities in one or more of the following domains: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking, abnormal motor behavior, and negative symptoms.

What is psychosis?

Psychosis is a mental illness characterized by loss of contact with reality. Generally, it involves different alterations in both thought and behavior, which gives rise to a wide range of alterations in different regions of the brain.

It was in the mid-nineteenth century when this term began to be used by the German psychiatrist Karl Friedrich Canstatt. Psychosis comes from Latin and can be translated as “alteration of the soul” or “alteration of the mind.”

The experiences suffered by patients are many and, moreover, very varied. The three most common manifestations are hallucinations, delusions, and catatonia . The symptoms of psychotic episodes can have very different causes and usually arise as a result of psychosocial stress and different brain disorders; They can also be due to excessive alcohol and drug use.

The different types of psychosis that exist

When a patient suffers a first episode of psychosis, it is especially difficult for experts to determine the type of piscosis in question because in the vast majority of cases the factors that have caused it are unknown. Below we point out the different types of psychotic episodes that can occur depending on their causes.

Toxic psychosis

This is one of the most common types of all and is caused by drug or alcohol use ; It can also arise from the sudden withdrawal of one or more of them after prolonged use. In the vast majority of cases the symptoms of the psychotic episode disappear with the effects of drugs or alcohol; however, in other cases symptoms may persist even when consumption is discontinued.

Brief reactive psychosis

Another of the types of psychosis that exist. As its name indicates, the symptoms appear suddenly and disappear after a few days . Generally, these episodes arise in a situation of great tension, such as a job dismissal or the death of a loved one.

Organic psychosis

The symptoms of psychosis can also arise as a result of a certain injury or disease, such as a brain tumor . In these cases, the psychotic episodes are accompanied by other neurological symptoms, which can vary significantly from one patient to another.


It is known as such a mental illness that is characterized by psychotic episodes that last beyond six months . The intensity of symptoms varies considerably between patients. Contrary to what many, many people believe, with proper treatment, people suffering from schizophrenia can lead completely normal lives.

Bipolar disorder

Psychosis can occur both in the manic episodes of bipolar disorder , of euphoria and excitement, as in the depressive episodes , of discouragement and sadness. Psychotic symptoms are directly related to the mood of the patient. Thus, if you are going through a depressive episode, you may hear voices that encourage suicide; meanwhile, during a manic episode, you may believe that you have extraordinary qualities, such as the ability to fly.

Delusional disorder

The main symptom of this type of psychosis is delusions. That is, the person firmly believes things and facts that are not really true.

Causes of psychosis

To this day, the direct causes of psychosis remain largely unknown. There is a wide range of theories provided by different experts.

One of the most widespread at present is the one that indicates that psychosis arises because of a cognitive-behavioral disorder ; that is, to the combination of great personal and social stress and biological vulnerability as a result of genetic inheritance or poor brain function.

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However, there are other theories that point to different causes of psychosis. There are experts who explain that this disease is due to the denial and substitution of reality in order to survive; the patient needs to distort reality since he is unable to repress his primary instincts.

Another of the probable causes of this disease is the feeling of anguish and vulnerability in the face of defeats and failures, situations in which the person feels ashamed and self-deprecates. Thus, the subject deceives himself in order to protect himself, ending up completely distancing himself from reality.

What are the symptoms of psychosis?

As we have pointed out, there is a wide range of different psychotic episodes. However, they all share a series of symptoms; Depending on the causes that have given rise to the psychosis, as well as the physical and mental state of health of the patient, these can be suffered with greater or lesser intensity.

  • Confused thoughts: Even the most habitual and everyday thoughts can become confused, so that the patient is unable to concentrate and maintain attention. Thoughts may become faster or slower, and the patient is unable to remember simple things.
  • Distortion of reality: this is one of the symptoms that occurs in practically 100% of patients suffering from psychosis. They believe facts and things that are completely false; It is what is known as delusions. It is worth noting that the degree of conviction is maximum, so that it is impossible to convince patients otherwise.
  • Hallucinations: another of the most common symptoms of this disease; patients can see, hear, feel, and even smell things that are not really there. It is very common for patients to hear voices that induce them to perform certain acts.
  • Changes in feelings and emotions: Sometimes the feelings and emotions of patients change dramatically for no apparent reason, causing them to isolate themselves from the world. Sudden changes in mood are very common.
  • Changes in behavior: people with psychosis often have changes in their usual behavior. There are those who feel very active and believe that they can do many more things than they are really capable of, while there are others who feel a great lethargy and do not really want to do anything at all.

Diagnosis and treatment

As we have noted, diagnosing psychosis is not at all straightforward in its early stages. Once the disease is diagnosed, treatment is divided into two large groups: therapy and medication.


The psychiatrist must establish an appropriate treatment plan for the patient. First, you must evaluate and diagnose the symptoms, which can vary significantly from one patient to another.

The psychiatric treatment has a big impact on own negative symptoms of psychosis and psychosocial functioning of the patient and cognitive functions. The quality of life of patients can improve considerably with the appropriate treatment plan.

Many of the patients with psychosis have a deficit in social skills . Therefore, they work with them in a large selection of areas such as verbal fluency, gestures, speed of language, body posture, emotional and social perception, etc.

In the vast majority of cases, the psychiatrist also intervenes in the family environment; the family must be aware of how to properly manage the patient’s symptoms, promoting a warm climate and improving communication.


The administration of drugs is essential in patients with psychosis; generally, they are given antipsychotics or neuroleptics . They are also given others such as anxiolytics and antidepressants if they have depression or anxiety symptoms.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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