Each person will have different symptoms; the common feature is that they are not experiencing reality like most people. A set of symptoms could include delusions (believing something that is unlikely to be true e.g. that members of a secret society are conspiring to hurt you, for example, hear, smell, feel, hear or see things which other people do not (hallucinations).  A person experiencing a psychotic episode will have serious disturbances in their thinking, emotions and behaviour. Some people only have a single episode and make a full recovery; for others, it is a longer process. When people have a psychotic episode, they are often unaware that they are unwell. They believe that what they are worrying about is actually happening to them, that they really are being followed, that their life is at risk, that they are being threatened, for instance. Mental health professionals call this ‘lack of insight’.
People who have a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder and psychotic depression experience some or all of the symptoms of psychosis. People who have some types of personality disorder can also experience these symptoms. 


Treatment for psychosis involves a combination of antipsychotic medicines, psychological therapies and social support.  Medication is started as soon as possible to help the most disturbing symptoms and can make it possible for other kinds of help to work. Other treatments used together with medication or on their own, include talking therapies (psychotherapy), and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Family intervention can be an important part of the care package. An early intervention team is a team of healthcare professionals set up specifically to work with people who have experienced their first episode of psychosis.

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