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Understanding Psychosis: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Diagnosis

Psychosis is a serious mental health disorder characterized by hallucinations and delusions. Also known as psychotic disorder, it affects nearly 1 million people every year in India. A person suffering from psychosis is unable to distinguish between his symptoms and the reality. It affects their thought process and opinions.

Hallucinations are sensory experiences that may be visual, auditory or both. In visual experiences, the person might see something that is not there. In an auditory hallucination, they may hear something that is not present. They may also smell non-existent odors. Hallucinations usually occur without a stimulus. On the other hand, delusions are thoughts that oppose the actual evidence.

Both hallucinations and delusions are very real for the person experiencing them. These experiences can be frightening, confusing and overwhelming and people suffering from these may end up harming themselves or others.


A lot of people may display warning symptoms before the psychosis actually develops. These may include:

  • Feeling nothing at all or experiencing strangely new feelings
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Communication challenges
  • Social withdrawal
  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Isolation
  • Symptoms of depression
  • General anxiety
  • Seemingly unnoticeable changes in speech, behavior and thought

If one notices a few or a combination of these symptoms, then they should seek medical help. Once psychosis develops, the symptoms might include:

  • Impulsive or irrational behavior
  • Catatonia, a condition in which a person freezes or becomes unresponsive
  • Lack of interest in things once enjoyed
  • Feeling no emotions
  • Hallucinations and/or delusions
  • Suicide ideation and attempt
  • Tendency to inflict self-harm
  • Disturbed and unorganized thought process
  • Rapid speech patterns with constant dialogue
  • Switching topics suddenly
  • Unintentional psychomotor behavior such as fidgeting, tapping fingertips, etc.
  • Sudden mood switch
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns


There can be varied reasons for psychosis to manifest. In some cases, it might be a result of another disorder; in another case, the trigger might be drug use, extreme stress, lack of sleep, or a combination of multiple factors. In fact, the cause of the psychosis would decide whether the psychosis would be mild, severe or how long it will take to manifest.

Experts have however clubbed the symptoms under the following categories:

  • Trauma
  • Genetic factors
  • Substance misuse
  • Mental health conditions

Risk Factors

Psychosis can happen to anybody. There is no precise identification marker that can point to who develops psychosis. However, scientists believe that genetics has a huge role to play. If a close family member has been diagnosed with psychotic disorder, then the person has a high propensity to develop the same.


Psychosis can be diagnosed with the help of a psychiatric evaluation. Additionally, a doctor would also take the help of X-rays, CT scans and bloodwork to determine any other underlying illness and to rule out any other condition that may be causing the resultant symptoms.

Psychosis usually manifests during late teenage years or early adulthood years. A psychiatrist/psychologist would ask about the following:

  • Medical history
  • History of drug use
  • Family history of psychiatric conditions
  • Thoughts, behaviors and daily routines

Depending on the results of both the psychiatric and physical assessments, the doctor would diagnose the condition.

The road ahead

If someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, then seek medical help immediately. Athena Behavioral Health offers residential treatment programs for people suffering from psychosis or any other mental health condition. Our experienced staff can customize the treatment plan for psychosis and offer 24/7 care to the patients. For more information about psychosis and treatment programs for psychosis, WhatsApp us at 9289086193. Our admission counsellor is available to guide you with your queries.