Psychosis and schizophrenia

Psychosis and schizophrenia

Psychosis and schizophrenia are mental health problems that affect a person's thoughts, mood and behaviour. The main symptoms are called 'psychotic' symptoms. These are:

  • hearing voices and sometimes seeing things that are not really there (called a hallucination)

  • believing strongly that something is real or true when it is not (called a delusion); for example, some people with delusions may be sure they are being watched or having their thoughts monitored.

Because of these symptoms the person may not be able to think clearly or concentrate. There may be changes in the way they behave. They may lose interest in things and other people.

There are different types of psychosis, and the healthcare team will try to work out which one the person has. Schizophrenia is one type, which is covered by this information. People with bipolar disorder and depression can also have psychosis. See the other NICE guidance section for details of our guidance on these conditions. Some people only ever have one experience of psychosis, whereas others have more than one. Some people go on to have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression. It is also possible to have psychosis without one of these diagnoses.

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