A psychotic episode involves experiencing a symptom of psychosis, such as hallucinations, delusions or other unusual thoughts or beliefs. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about 3 in 100 people experience a psychotic episode in their life.

Signs and symptoms that strongly indicate that a person is experiencing a psychotic episode include:

  • Extreme or inappropriate emotions, or no emotion at all
  • Seeing, hearing, tasting and believing things that others do not
  • Persistent unusual thoughts or beliefs that are difficult to reduce
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • A sudden decline in self-care
  • Social isolation

Early Warning Signs of Psychosis

Recognizing early warning signs of psychosis can be difficult. People who might experience a psychotic episode could have trouble concentrating, experience problems at school or work, exhibit suspicion of others or avoid loved ones.

Some people who experience a psychotic episode deal with hallucinations, which can be visual or auditory. Individuals who hallucinate might hear voices in their minds, see objects that don’t exist or feel strange sensations or other unexplained feelings.

Delusions are also common during psychotic episodes. Delusions are beliefs that are not consistent with the individual’s culture. These beliefs are unlikely to be true and may seem irrational to others.

Individuals grappling with delusions may deal with:

  • Thinking that you have special powers or that you may be a deity
  • Believing that unimportant remarks, objects or events have personal significance
  • Believe that external forces control your thoughts, feelings and behaviors

Experiencing a psychotic episode can be frightening for an individual and those around them. People exhibiting early signs of a psychotic episode should seek immediate medical attention. A doctor can help these individuals identify an appropriate course of treatment. Medical professionals can also suggest treatments for psychosis.

NAMI. “Early Psychosis And Psychosis.” (n.d.) Accessed February 20, 2019.

What Is a Psychotic Episode?
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