Common Symptoms of Psychosis
The following symptoms are called positive symptoms. In this case, the word positive does not mean they are good, but rather that something is present that should not be.
These are false perceptions of one or more of the five senses: hearing, seeing, touch, taste or smell. They most often involve hearing noises or voices, such as having one’s name called when no one is around or seeing something that is not really there. A person experiences it as real, even though it is not actually happening.
False beliefs or delusions
A false belief that does not fit with the person’s cultural group is known as a delusion. Even though delusions may seem odd or obviously irrational to others, they are held as true by the people who have them. You cannot just talk someone out of a delusion. (See common types of delusions below.)
A person who is experiencing psychosis may have trouble thinking clearly or logically and putting her thoughts into words. She may speak in sentences that are jumbled or lose her train of thought when speaking. Sometimes a person experiencing psychosis makes meaningful connections between ideas and events that most other people would not make. She may also have trouble concentrating, following a conversation, thinking abstractly, or remembering new information.
Common Types of Delusions May include
Ideas of Reference
A person may believe they are receiving special messages from the TV, radio, or music. Alternatively, they may believe that colors, words, or other things in the environment have special meaning just for them.
Example: Whenever Jenny sees a blue car, she believes that God is sending her a message to leave school early.
A person may believe that friends, family, government agencies, or others are trying to bother them or harm them even when it isn’t true.
Example: Steve is convinced that his roommate is trying to poison his food and refuses to eat anything that he does not prepare himself.
A person may believe that other people can hear or read their thoughts.
Example: Tamika has been avoiding her friends because she believes they can read her thoughts, especially when she is angry or thinking about something embarrassing.
A person may have thoughts that feel foreign to them and seem as if they have been inserted by an outside force or person.
Example: John has been finding himself thinking of highly offensive comments about women that he would never say out loud. He is convinced that his cell phone is somehow implanting these thoughts in his mind.
A person may develop a belief that they have a supernatural power, is famous, or they are the messiah or a chosen person with a special mission.
Example: Julietta believes that she owns the internet and has been chosen by God to save the world by deciphering codes on web pages.
Other Symptoms May include
Most people who experience psychosis experience difficulties with memory, attention, mental speed, planning and organization of thoughts. These difficulties may begin months or years before psychosis begins.
Many people who experience psychosis experience what are called negative symptoms. The word negative doesn’t mean critical or complaining but refers to the absence (subtracted) of something that is normally present. Negative symptoms include:
- Withdrawal from the outside world, including from one’s family, friends, and even one’s own self (often due to a drop in or absence of interest or ability to relate to others)
- Trouble with motivation or getting started on goal-directed activities (such as working, schoolwork, or attending to personal hygiene)
- Trouble thinking clearly and communicating with others (the person may talk very little)
- Not showing much emotion (such as with facial expressions or gestures) or trouble interpreting social cues of others
- Noticeable reductions in the amount of speech or the content of speech (e.g., even when the person talks, they convey very little meaningful information)
- Reduced interest in social activities or other activities that used to be enjoyable to the person.