Psychosis is a term used to describe experiences, beliefs or views that someone may have that are different to how other people experience them.

What does psychosis look like?

Typical examples of this would be:

  • hearing voices that no-one else hears
  • seeing things that aren’t there
  • feeling, smelling or tasting unusual sensations with no obvious cause
  • believing others can influence their thoughts, or they can influence the thoughts of others or control events.
  • believing they are being watched, followed or targeted by others or that their life is in danger. Others may feel that their thoughts have sped up or slowed down and may be thinking or talking in a confused way.

Understandably these experiences can be very frightening and confusing for the person experiencing them and for their family and friends. However, each individual’s experience and way of coping is unique and in fact some people do not find these experiences distressing and do not seek support. Up to 10% of the population will experience voice hearing at some point in their life, so it’s much more common than you might think!

When does it happen?

Psychosis can be caused by:

  • extreme stress
  • a longer term mental illness
  • trauma
  • drugs and alcohol

An episode of psychosis is often brought about by a combination of stressful experiences or situations and the sensitivity of the individual at that time.

How is it treated?

If you are struggling with psychosis you may:

  • get support through talking therapies
  • be helped to make changes in the way you live
  • be given medication to help to reduce symptoms
  • receive family and carer information, therapy and support.

What can I do?

  • If you feel you may have Psychosis try speaking to a trusted person such as friends, family, GP, school nurse or counsellor to help you with getting some specialist advice.
  • Keep a diary of the voices and the times and places they occur, you can then plan to be with people at these times for support or avoid the situations and places that can trigger them.
  • Voices can be triggered or made worse by stress, take time to relax, try practising relaxation exercises daily, they can help you learn how to relax and calm yourself.
  • Try laying or sitting in a quiet room, closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing, try taking slow breaths, breathing in for a count of four and breathing out to the count of four.
  • Some people who experience hearing voices find that listening to music on a phone or iPod /MP3 helps to distract them or drown out the voices.

For more information on psychosis visit Young Minds or find out out how to access our services so that we can support you.

In both Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, we have teams of experts who are there to support you if you’re experiencing psychosis for the first time. They aim to support you to overcome psychosis through different therapies to help you carry on with your day to day life.

Page last reviewed: 10 May, 2022