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Understanding Psychosis: Exploring the Depths of Mental Health

Psychosis is a mental health condition characterized by a detachment from reality, often marked by hallucinations, delusions, and impaired thinking. It affects individuals across cultures, ages, and backgrounds, presenting significant challenges both for those experiencing it and for their families and communities.

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis is not a single disorder but rather a symptom of several mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression with psychotic features, and certain neurological conditions. It typically manifests in episodes where individuals lose touch with reality, experiencing altered perceptions of the world around them.

Symptoms of Psychosis

The hallmark symptoms of psychosis include:

  • Hallucinations: Sensory experiences that occur without external stimuli, such as hearing voices, seeing things that are not there, or feeling sensations on the skin.
  • Delusions: Strongly held false beliefs that are not based in reality, such as paranoia (believing others are plotting against you) or grandiosity (believing you have extraordinary powers or abilities).
  • Disorganized thinking: Difficulty concentrating, forming coherent thoughts, or connecting ideas logically.
  • Disorganized behavior: Acting in ways that are unusual or inappropriate for the situation, such as agitation or catatonia.


Causes and Risk Factors

The exact causes of psychosis are complex and not fully understood but are believed to involve a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. These may include:

  • Genetic predisposition: Family history of psychotic disorders can increase the risk.
  • Brain chemistry and structure: Imbalances in neurotransmitters such as dopamine and abnormalities in brain structure may contribute.
  • Stress and trauma: Severe stress, trauma, or major life changes can trigger psychotic episodes in vulnerable individuals.
  • Substance abuse: Drug abuse, particularly stimulants or hallucinogens, can induce psychotic symptoms.


Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing psychosis involves a comprehensive evaluation by mental health professionals, including psychiatric assessments, medical history reviews, and sometimes imaging tests to rule out other medical conditions. Treatment approaches typically involve a combination of:

  • Medication: Antipsychotic medications help manage symptoms by stabilizing neurotransmitter activity in the brain.
  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy can help individuals understand and cope with their symptoms.
  • Supportive interventions: Support groups, family therapy, and educational programs provide additional support and resources for individuals and their loved ones.


Living with Psychosis

Living with psychosis can be challenging, impacting relationships, work, and daily functioning. However, with appropriate treatment and support, many individuals can manage their symptoms effectively and lead fulfilling lives. It’s crucial for individuals experiencing psychosis to have a supportive network of healthcare providers, family, and friends who understand the condition and can offer practical assistance and emotional support.

Breaking Stigma and Promoting Understanding

Stigma surrounding psychosis and other mental health conditions often leads to discrimination and misunderstandings. Education and awareness campaigns are essential in breaking down these barriers, promoting empathy, and encouraging early intervention and treatment.


Psychosis is a complex mental health condition that requires careful diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing support. By increasing understanding, supporting research, and advocating for better mental health services, we can improve outcomes for individuals affected by psychosis and work towards a more compassionate and inclusive society where everyone has access to the care they need.

(AFRIMEB) is a public benefit organization, based in Kenya dedicated to research in mental and neurological health and, substance use to generate evidence for policy and best practice in the provision of affordable, appropriate, available and accessible mental health services.

Get in Touch

Africa Institute of Mental and Brain Health (AFRIMEB). Matumbato Rd, Nairobi, Kenya. P.O Box 48423-00100

+(254) 202651360