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Definition Return to top
Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality, usually including false ideas about what is taking place or who one is (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations).
Causes Return to top
Psychosis is a severe mental condition in which there is a loss of contact with reality. There are many possible causes:
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Psychological evaluation and testing are used to diagnose the cause of the psychosis.
Laboratory and x-ray testing may not be needed, but sometimes can help pinpoint the exact diagnosis. Tests may include:
Treatment Return to top
Treatment depends on the cause of the psychosis. Care in a hospital is often needed to ensure the patient's safety.
Antipsychotic drugs, which reduce "hearing voices" (auditory hallucinations) and delusions, and control thinking and behavior are helpful. Group or individual therapy can also be useful.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
How well a person will do depends on the specific disorder. Long-term treatment can control many of the symptoms.
Possible Complications Return to top
Psychosis can prevent people from functioning normally and caring for themselves. If the condition is left untreated, people can harm themselves or others.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider or mental health professional if a member of your family acts as though they have lost contact with reality. If there is any concern about safety, immediately take the person to the nearest emergency room to be checked.
Prevention Return to top
Prevention depends on the cause. For example, avoiding alcohol abuse prevents alcohol-induced psychosis.
References Return to top
International Early Psychosis Association Writing Group. International clinical practice guidelines for early psychosis. Br J Psychiatry. 2005;187:s120-s124.
Addington D, Bouchard RH, Goldberg J, Honer B, Malla A, Norman R, Tempier R. Clinical practice guidelines: treatment of schizophrenia. Can J Psychiatry. 2005;50:7S-57S.Update Date: 2/6/2008 Updated by: Christos Ballas, M.D., Attending Psychiatrist, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.