What is psychosis?

Psychosis is an experience where a person has problems interpreting the world around them. They might see or hear things that other people can’t or have unusual ideas or beliefs.


Psychosis is often frightening for the person experiencing it and often misunderstood by those around them. But it can be treated. Most people who experience psychosis make a good recovery and go on to lead healthy, productive lives.

Although every person has a different experience there are common symptoms such as:

  • changes in perception, (hallucinations; seeing things others don’t see or hearing voices and sounds that others don’t),
  • confused thinking, unusual thoughts and ideas, and
  • behaving in a way that seems out of character.


Download our psychosis factsheet


What causes psychosis?

Like lots of mental health difficulties, psychosis is caused by a combination of different things. Things like genetics and a history of tough times can make a person more vulnerable to psychosis. Things people are exposed to in life can also contribute to developing a psychosis.

They include:

  • grief and loss
  • drug use
  • difficult times with family or friends
  • ongoing problems at school or work


How is psychosis treated?

Treatments for psychosis usually includes:

  • counselling and therapy
  • medication
  • education about psychosis
  • support from family, community and/or mob
  • practical support to get back to school or work.


What does recovery involve?

The recovery journey is different for everyone. Just like with any illness, recovering from psychosis can be an ongoing process. It’s not just about getting rid of the symptoms – it’s about learning to enjoy life while managing the tough times when they happen.

Recovery may involve:

  • getting back a sense of control
  • learning how to build and maintain a healthy headspace 
  • learning to manage symptoms so they have less of an impact on day-to-day life
  • learning how to have supportive relationships
  • going to school or work
  • learning to be more independent.


How do I get help?

If you think you’ve got symptoms of psychosis, it’s a good idea to seek help as soon as possible. The earlier you get help, the better the results and the quicker your recovery.

Talk with your GP or contact a headspace Early Psychosis centre.

Get professional support

If you feel you need help there are a range of ways we can support you.