Medical Encyclopedia


Medical Encyclopedia

Other encyclopedia topics:  A-Ag  Ah-Ap  Aq-Az  B-Bk  Bl-Bz  C-Cg  Ch-Co  Cp-Cz  D-Di  Dj-Dz  E-Ep  Eq-Ez  F  G  H-Hf  Hg-Hz  I-In  Io-Iz  J  K  L-Ln  Lo-Lz  M-Mf  Mg-Mz  N  O  P-Pl  Pm-Pz  Q  R  S-Sh  Si-Sp  Sq-Sz  T-Tn  To-Tz  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  0-9 


Contents of this page:

Alternative Names   


Definition    Return to top

Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality, usually including false ideas about what is taking place or who one is (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations).

Causes    Return to top

Psychosis is a severe mental condition in which there is a loss of contact with reality. There are many possible causes:

Symptoms    Return to top

Exams and Tests    Return to top

Psychological evaluation and testing are used to diagnose the cause of the psychosis.

Laboratory and x-ray testing may not be needed, but sometimes can help pinpoint the exact diagnosis. Tests may include:

Treatment    Return to top

Treatment depends on the cause of the psychosis. Care in a hospital is often needed to ensure the patient's safety.

Antipsychotic drugs, which reduce "hearing voices" (auditory hallucinations) and delusions, and control thinking and behavior are helpful. Group or individual therapy can also be useful.

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

How well a person will do depends on the specific disorder. Long-term treatment can control many of the symptoms.

Possible Complications    Return to top

Psychosis can prevent people from functioning normally and caring for themselves. If the condition is left untreated, people can harm themselves or others.

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

Call your health care provider or mental health professional if a member of your family acts as though they have lost contact with reality. If there is any concern about safety, immediately take the person to the nearest emergency room to be checked.

Prevention    Return to top

Prevention depends on the cause. For example, avoiding alcohol abuse prevents alcohol-induced psychosis.

References    Return to top

International Early Psychosis Association Writing Group. International clinical practice guidelines for early psychosis. Br J Psychiatry. 2005;187:s120-s124.

Addington D, Bouchard RH, Goldberg J, Honer B, Malla A, Norman R, Tempier R. Clinical practice guidelines: treatment of schizophrenia. Can J Psychiatry. 2005;50:7S-57S.

Update Date: 2/6/2008

Updated by: Christos Ballas, M.D., Attending Psychiatrist, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M. Logo

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2009, A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.