Schizophrenia & psychosis

Psychosis is a condition where you may have difficulty recognising what is real and what is not. Schizophrenia is when you have these symptoms for at least six months.

About psychosis

About psychosis

Psychosis is a mental health condition which affects around three out of every 100 people. It can happen at any stage in your life but most people develop psychosis as a teenager or young adult. It is important to know that there are effective treatments for psychosis. Starting treatment as early as possible greatly improves the road to recovery.

Psychosis affects a lot more men than women, but women tend to develop psychosis at a later stage in life than men. There are times in a woman’s life when they can be at a higher risk of psychosis, such as childbirth.

The experience of psychosis affects people in different ways and symptoms can be more intense on some days than others. Some people can experience psychosis regularly while for others these moments can be rare. The symptoms of psychosis can get in the way of day-to-day life and affect your ability to go to work, concentrate, stay motivated and have a social life – this is described as ‘dreaming when you are wide awake’.

There are a few different symptoms of psychosis, which are listed below. Not everyone will experience all of these symptoms.

What are the symptoms of psychosis?

  • Hallucinations

    This is when you can hear, see, feel or touch something that is not there. Hearing voices is the most common form of hallucination.

  • Delusions (unusual beliefs)

    This symptom is when you believe something that isn’t true. Some examples of this are people believing others want to hurt them or believing they have special talents, wealth or powers. Another common delusion is believing that other people can control their thoughts or actions, or the belief that people on the radio or television are talking to them directly.

  • Thought disorder

    This symptom makes it difficult to talk to others in an organised way. When talking, you might jump from one topic to another.

  • Cognitive difficulties

    This symptom means you may have difficulties with paying attention, remembering or understanding ideas.

  • Changed behaviour

    This means you may find it hard to do certain things like school work, paid work or hobbies. Spending time with people becomes difficult. You will find that you may act differently to how you normally act. For example, if you are hearing voices, to others it may seem like you are talking to people who aren’t there.

  • Negative symptoms

    Negative symptoms mean that you have a lack of energy and motivation, and are also unable to say or show how you feel. You may find it hard to make plans with people or follow through with plans. You could no longer be interested in activities you used to enjoy and find it hard to express any emotions. These symptoms may be connected with a feeling of sadness but often they are not.

What mental health difficulties have psychosis as a symptom?

Psychosis can be a symptom of a few mental health difficulties as listed below.

  • Schizophrenia

    Schizophrenia is diagnosed when you have had psychosis symptoms for more than six months, with a serious decline in your ability to function. It is a mental health difficulty that can affect how a you think, feel and behave. People with schizophrenia may experience the symptoms related to psychosis, which can cause them to struggle with what is real and what is not. Please know that schizophrenia can be managed well with the right treatment, especially when started early.

  • Schizophreniform disorder

    This is when you have symptoms of pyschosis for less than six months.

  • Bipolar disorder with psychosis symptoms

    With this type of mental health difficulty, psychosis can affect your mood rather than your thoughts.

  • Schizo-affective disorder

    This is when psychosis can affect both your thoughts and mood, either at the same time or one after the other over time.

  • Depression with psychosis symptoms

    This is when you have severe depression with symptoms of psychosis.

  • Drug-induced psychosis

    The use of drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, LSD or alcohol can sometimes trigger symptoms of psychosis.

  • Organic psychosis

    Symptoms of psychosis can appear as a result of a physical illness such as Parkinsons’s disease or a head injury.

  • Brief psychotic disorder

    This mental health difficulty usually lasts less than a month and is triggered by a major stress or trauma such as the loss of a loved one.

  • Delusional disorder

    This type of psychosis means having very strong beliefs about things which there is no evidence to support.

What treatments are available for schizophrenia?

What treatments are available for schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia and similar mental health difficulties can be successfully managed. Different treatment settings (inpatient at hospital, day programme, outpatient, private/public psychological therapies, support groups) and treatment plans may be effective for different people depending on the type of mental health difficulty and how bad the symptoms are. Other factors to consider are the person’s age, if there are other health issues and if there are support networks available to the individual.

At St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS), our Psychosis Recovery Service provides care in an outpatient, day patient or inpatient setting, according to the needs of the individual.


Useful resources

Please go to our Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to some of the common queries we receive about mental health and our services.

  • Websites

    • Shine is a national organisation providing information and support for people affected by mental health difficulties along with their family members. Phone: 1890 621 631.
    • Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) works with young people with psychosis-related mental health difficulties and aims to facilitate the early identification and treatment.
    • Rethink work to improve the lives of people severely affected by mental health difficulties and ensure they have a good quality of life.
  • Books

    • Coping with schizophrenia – Steven Jones/Peter Hayward
    • Schizophrenia – The Facts – Ming T Tsuang/Stephen V Farone
    • Overcoming Paranoid and Suspicious Thoughts – D Freeman/J Freeman/P Garety.

     Check the Information Centre Book Shop for availability and a wider selection of books.

Find out more about treatment options

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Young Adults


For general queries, please call us. For more on mental health and our services, see our frequently asked questions (FAQs).

01 249 3200 See our FAQs


Contact Referral and Assessment Service for queries regarding referrals to our services.

01 249 3635 See more from our referrals team