Psychosis and schizophrenia

Psychosis and schizophrenia

Psychosis and schizophrenia are mental health problems that affect how a person thinks, feels and behaves. They can make it hard for the person to think clearly and tell the difference between what's real and what's not. The person may act differently or lose interest in things and other people.

The main symptoms are called 'psychotic' symptoms. These are:

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

  • believing that something is real or true when it is not (called a delusion); such as, believing they are being watched or having their thoughts monitored.

For most people the symptoms start when they are young adults, but they can happen at any age. The first time a person has these symptoms is called a 'first episode of psychosis'. Some people only ever have one episode of psychosis, but others may have more than one. There are different types of psychosis; schizophrenia is one type, but psychosis can also sometimes occur in people with bipolar disorder or depression. (See the Other NICE guidance section for details of our guidance on bipolar disorder and depression.)

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