A resource to support good mental health and wellbeing for the people of Qatar
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Symptoms of Psychosis

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis (also be referred to as psychotic illnesses or episodes) is when a person perceives or interprets events differently from people around them. This could include experiencing hallucinations, delusions or disorganized thinking, which can affect their thoughts and behavior.


What are the Signs and Symptoms of Psychosis?

The symptoms can represent themselves in different forms such as;


  • ​Hallucinations - Hearing voices or seeing things, which other people do not see or physically feel or smell things that are not actually there
  • Delusions – Having strong beliefs, which are unlikely to be true and may seem irrational (i.e. feelings of being controlled by outside forces)
  • Disorganized thinking - Switching from one topic to another with no clear link between the two
  • Withdrawal or lack of function; for example, people with schizophrenia can experience lack of pleasure, low energy, lack of motivation, and have trouble expressing or showing their emotions.  

"I didn't have the energy to go to work or go out with friends…things that used to be fun didn't seem fun anymore"


These symptoms can be debilitating and people affected are often unable to cope with everyday tasks, such as work and household duties.​

Different forms of psychosis

When people experience psychosis, they may be diagnosed with one or more of the following mental health conditions:



Development of a psychotic illness can happen at any time in a person's life, however people are more likely to have a first episode of psychosis when they are younger. Psychosis requires assessment and treatment by a qualified health professional.


The causes are largely unknown but episodes appear to be associated with changes in some brain chemicals.


Psychosis can also be triggered by traumatic experiences, stress, or physical conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, a brain tumor, or as a result of substance misuse.



During an episode of schizophrenia, a person's understanding of the outside world, their thoughts and feelings are disrupted. Therefore, they may:

  • lose touch with reality
  • see or hear things that are not there
  • hold irrational beliefs
  • appear to act strangely because they are responding to these delusions and hallucinations
  • extremely disorganized or abnormal behavior, which makes it hard to perform tasks 

"a voice kept criticizing me and telling me that I was a failure and a bad person…I knew no one was there talking to me, it was inside my head….sometimes I see things that no one else sees" 

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (previously known as manic depression) affects how people feel and can cause intense mood swings. Individuals' moods can change from an extreme high (mania) to an extreme low. The mood changes might affect changes in energy levels or the way people act. 


"It's like an emotional rollercoaster, my mood goes up and down…some days I'm so happy and ecstatic then a couple days later my mood becomes severely depressed…I couldn't finish tasks I started, I couldn't focus on my university studies or finish assignments…I lost good friends and my family tried to help but they got tired with my constantly changing mood and behavior"


Mania (or a manic episode) can feel like the opposite of depression and varies in intensity. This is not just a fleeting experience. Symptoms may include feeling great, having lots of energy, and may include some of the following symptoms that lasts at least one week.


  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Distracted
  • Increased goal-directed activity or agitation
  • Doing things that are unusual and that have a high risk or potential for painful consequences

The episode is often severe enough to cause significant difficulty at work, at school or in social activities or relationships.


"People told me I jumped from topic to topic, they said I didn't make sense"

"I thought that people were after me to harm me, and they spied on me through the computer and sometimes TV…it was difficult to go on with my life and maintain my relationship with my family and friends, I couldn't trust anyone and I couldn't shake that thought from my head"


Diagnosis depends on the person having had an episode of mania and, unless observed, this can be hard to pick. It is not uncommon for people to go for years before receiving an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder. If you (or someone you know) are experiencing highs and lows, it's important to make this clear to a trained health professional. The earlier psychoses are treated, the more successful the outcomes tend to be.

"Seeking help early can help reduce the severity of the illness or even delay or prevent a major mental illness."​​​​​​