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What are the Symptoms of Psychosis?

Psychotic symptoms typically include changes in thinking, mood and behavior. Symptoms vary from person to person and may change over time. Some of the more characteristic symptoms can be grouped into five categories:

  • Confused Thinking: Thoughts become muddled or confused. The person may not make sense when speaking. The person may have difficulty concentrating, following a conversation or remembering things. His or her mind may race or appear to be processing information in slow motion.
  • False Beliefs: False beliefs, known as delusions, are common. The person can be so convinced of the reality of their delusion that no amount of logical argument can dissuade them. For example, they may believe the police are watching them, or they might think they are receiving special messages from the television, radio or newspaper.
  • Hallucinations: In psychosis, the person sees, hears, feels, smells or tastes something that is not actually there. For example, they may hear voices which no one else can hear, or see things which aren’t there. Things may taste or smell as if they are bad or even poisoned.
  • Changed feelings: How someone feels may change for no apparent reason. They may feel strange and cut off from the world. Mood swings are common and they may feel unusually excited or depressed. A person’s emotions feel dampened and they may show less emotion to those around them.
  • Changed behavior: People with psychosis may behave differently from the way they usually do. They may be extremely active or lethargic. They may laugh inappropriately or become angry or upset without apparent cause. Often, changes in behaviour are associated with the symptoms already described above. For example, a person believing they are in danger may call the police. Someone who believes he is Jesus Christ may spend the day preaching in the streets. A person may stop eating because they are concerned that the food is poisoned, or have trouble sleeping because they are scared.