Is psychosis with bipolar I disorder serious?

Sheri Van Dijk

Psychosis is when someone is out of touch with reality: either they are experiencing hallucinations, seeing things, hearing things, smelling things, and so on, that aren't really there; or they are experiencing delusions, an unshakable belief in something that isn't real or true (for example, that they have been chosen by God to bring a message to people; or that there is a conspiracy to prevent them from achieving certain goals).

When someone is psychotic, their functioning is usually impacted - for example they stop taking proper care of themselves or are actually engaging in actions that are harmful to themselves; or they are acting in bizarre, frightening ways. Contrary to popular belief, most people with psychosis are not actually dangerous to others.

Psychosis doesn't only happen with bipolar disorder. Of course it is one of the hallmark symptoms of schizophrenia; but psychosis can also occur with unipolar depression and some other mental illnesses. It can also be related to substance use, and to certain medical conditions.

Because of the tremendous impact on an individual's life, however, psychosis is always serious; and the sooner it's treated - usually with hospitalization and medications - the easier it is to resolve. Unfortunately, it's often difficult to get someone who is psychotic treatment, because they usually don't realize that they are unwell. Check with your local mental health agencies and hospitals to see what your options are legally, as well as what community mental health supports are available to you and your loved ones.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.