Psychosis occurs when illness, drug use, or severe stress disrupts the functioning of the brain to such an extent that it interferes with our normal experience of reality – for example, hearing voices when no one else is around or experiencing disorganised thoughts or behaviour.

Most people are able to recover from an episode of psychosis, although sometimes psychosis may be part of a longer-term illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. If you think you may be experiencing psychosis it is important that you seek treatment early.

Key Points:

  1. Learn about the symptoms of psychosis so you can understand what is happening and get help early.
  2. Treatment involves both medication and support. Make use of community support services for optimal recovery.
  3. It is important that you take care of yourself to help prevent relapse - learn tips for reducing stress, and make your wellbeing a priority – keep active, eat a balanced diet, get a good night’s sleep, and make time for fun activities.
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People with psychoses lose touch with reality and experience abnormal thinking and perceptions. Two of the main symptoms are delusions and hallucinations.
  • Delusions are false beliefs, such as thinking that someone is plotting against you or that the TV is sending you secret messages
  • Hallucinations are false perceptions, such as hearing, seeing, or feeling something that is not there
  • Hearing voices is one of the most common symptoms for people with psychosis
There are several conditions that can cause psychosis including some drugs, alcohol, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-partum psychosis (a rarer reaction after having a baby), brain tumors, brain infections, and stroke. Treatment depends on the cause of the psychosis.
  • At times, medication is needed to help control distressing symptoms
  • Talk therapy can also help
  • There are special early intervention programmes for teenagers experiencing psychosis as this has been shown to reduce the likelihood of long-term problems
  • For serious episodes, admission to hospital may be needed if a person might be dangerous to him/herself or others.
(Adapted from Medline Plus, Psychoses page)
htmlWhat is psychosis? Canterbury District Health Board
htmlPuerperal psychosis & postnatal depression Best Health - UK
htmlCannabis users get schizophrenia earlier Best Health - UK

What can I do? - Self help measures

In this section you will find resources to help reduce stress and improve wellbeing.

pdfHelp with Psychosis Workbook for Youth Here to Help6 Pages
 Easy to Read
pdfInformation for Clients National Early Intervention Executive Committee8 Pages
pdfInformation for Family & Friends National Early Intervention Executive Committee10 Pages
htmlHow can I help? Canterbury District Health Board

Clinical Resources

Resources to help improve clinical practice.


In this section you will find resources to help you be the best support person you can be; plus support services around the country.

pdfPsychosis: A Guide for Family & Friends Here to Help4 Pages
 Easy to Read
pdfHow to Help People Recovering from Psychosis Here to Help2 Pages
 Easy to Read
htmlWebhealth WebHealth
 NZ health & social services
htmlEarly Psychosis Prevention & Information Centre Early Psychosis Prevention & Information Centre (EPPIC)
 Australian early psychosis website
htmlMindnet Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
 Internet-based resource and e-bulletin about mental health promotion and prevention
htmlHealth Translations Directory State Government of Victoria, Australia
  Multiple Languages
htmlPsychoses related websites Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
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