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What is Psychosis?

Psychosis or a psychotic episode is when an individual perceives reality in a very different way from others around them, where there has been a loss of contact with reality and where the individual may have difficulty understanding what is real and what is not.

During an episode of psychosis, an individual may experience hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear), delusions (false beliefs), disorganized thinking and speech, or inappropriate behaviors for a situation. 

Psychosis in and of itself is not a diagnosis, but it is one symptom within a spectrum of other diagnoses such as severe depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and paranoid personality disorder.

How is an individual impacted by psychosis?

Psychosis can affect people in different ways depending on the frequency and intensity of the episodes. Some individuals may experience it only once, others have episodes throughout their lives, while others may live life with constant psychosis. 

The nature of symptoms experienced may also affect how an individual is impacted. Many individuals find that psychosis:

  • affects behaviors and is disruptive to their life
  • leads to feeling very tired or overwhelmed
  • makes them feel anxious/scared/frightened 
  • find it difficult to trust organizations or individuals

How can someone reduce the impacts of psychosis?

Someone who experiences psychosis should seek treatment as early as possible, speaking with their primary care provider to identify different treatment options. Medication and psychotherapy may also be additional resources. Research shows that treatments for psychosis work better when they are delivered closer to the time when the symptoms first appear. Individuals with quicker interventions showed a greater improvement in symptoms, functioning, and quality of life than those with longer durations of untreated psychosis.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.