Psychosis is a serious mental disorder that occurs when a person’s thinking and emotions become so impaired that they lose contact with reality. The person may suffer from delusions (false beliefs about what is happening) or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there).

Psychosis can be caused by some medical problems, including:

  • Alcohol and illegal drug use (or during
  • Brain diseases such as Parkinson or Huntington
  • Brain tumors
  • Dementia or Alzheimer disease
  • Infections that affect the brain
  • Some prescription drugs, like steroids and stimulants
  • Some types of
  • Stroke

Psychosis may also be found in patients suffering from mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or some personality disorders.

Symptoms of psychosis may include:

  • Disorganized thought and speech
  • Delusions (false beliefs that are not based in reality), especially unfounded fear or suspicion
  • Hallucinations (hearing, seeing or feeling things that are not there)
  • Disordered thinking (thoughts that "jump" uncontrollably between unrelated topics)

Psychiatric evaluation and testing are used to diagnose the cause of the psychosis. Lab tests and brain scans may also be used.


Treatment depends on the cause of the psychosis. Care in a hospital is often needed to ensure the patient's safety. Antipsychotic drugs are also often helpful to reduce hallucinations and delusions and improve thinking and behavior.

Psychosis can prevent people from functioning normally and caring for themselves. Left untreated, people can sometimes harm themselves or others.

See All Treatments

Treatments for Psychosis

Back to Condition

Symptoms and Screenings for Psychosis

Back to Overview

Causes and Preventions for Psychosis

Back to Overview

Education and Resources for Psychosis

Back to Overview

Support groups for Psychosis

Back to Overview

Learn More about Psychosis

Vidant Health can connect you to health care professionals to help you understand your condition and guide you through the treatment process. Let’s chat.

español »