Psychosis is a mental health condition which usually affects people in their teens or early adult years, although older people can experience it too.

Early signs can be vague and barely noticeable, and symptoms can vary a lot from one person to another, but the more common signs of psychosis include:

  • Mood swings, increased anxiety and / or loss of energy
  • Having unusual or strange experiences e.g. hearing, smelling and / or seeing things that other people don't
  • Becoming withdrawn and communicating less with those around you
  • Believing that people are conspiring against you, that you have special powers or that people on the TV or radio are talking about you
  • Distressing thoughts and beliefs e.g. that you're being followed or overheard or that someone is interfering with your thoughts, body or actions
  • Jumbled and confusing thoughts or not being able to hold a clear train of thought.

The causes of psychosis are not fully understood but it's likely that there are a number of reasons why people develop it.


Times of extreme stress such as relationship difficulties, families splitting up, parents arguing, exams or unemployment.

Lack of sleep

When people don't have enough sleep they can begin to see things differently and can experience psychotic symptoms e.g they may hear voices when other people don't.


There is a strong relationship between the use of drugs such as cannabis, speed and cocaine and the development of psychoptic symptoms.

Medical conditions

For a few people, psychosis is the result of an underlying medical illness, usually one involving the brain and nervous system.