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Psychosis

Psychosis occurs when a person loses contact with reality. The person may:

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Causes

Medical problems that can cause psychosis include:

Psychosis may also be found in:

Symptoms

A person with psychosis may have any of the following:

Exams and Tests

Psychiatric evaluation and testing are used to diagnose the cause of the psychosis.

Laboratory testing and brain scans may not be needed, but sometimes can help pinpoint the diagnosis. Tests may include:

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the psychosis. Care in a hospital is often needed to ensure the person's safety.

Antipsychotic drugs, which reduce hallucinations and delusions and improve thinking and behavior, are helpful.

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well a person does depends on the cause of the psychosis. If the cause can be corrected, the outlook is often good. In this case, treatment with antipsychotic medicine may be brief.

Some chronic conditions, such as schizophrenia, may need lifelong treatment with antipsychotic drugs to control symptoms.

Possible Complications

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

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider or mental health professional if you or a member of your family is losing contact with reality. If there is any concern about safety, take the person to the emergency room to be seen by a doctor.

Prevention

Prevention depends on the cause. For example, avoiding alcohol prevents psychosis caused by alcohol use.

Related Information

Schizophrenia
Dementia

References

American Psychiatric Association. Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. In: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013:87-122.

Freudenriech O, Brown HE, Holt DJ. Psychosis and schizophrenia. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 28.

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Review Date: 3/26/2018  

Reviewed By: Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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