What is the Connection Between Psychosis and Schizophrenia?

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  • Written By: H. Colledge
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2018
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Psychosis and schizophrenia are connected because symptoms of psychosis typically occur within schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness, and psychosis is a condition in which a person experiences hallucinations, perceiving things which are not really there, and delusions, where false beliefs are held to be true. Often what is called thought disorder is also present, where the thinking process is abnormal, and the person may display a lack of awareness that contact with reality has been lost. Psychosis can occur in a number of disorders but schizophrenia is probably the most common one.

About one percent of people develop schizophrenia, and the illness can range from a relatively mild disorder, where the person is able to carry out everyday activities, to a severe and disabling condition where ordinary life is impossible. Symptoms of schizophrenia are referred to as either positive or negative. The link between psychosis and schizophrenia is represented by the list of positive symptoms, which are mostly features of psychosis, including hallucinations, delusions and thought disorders. Disorganized thoughts and behavior make up the remaining positive symptoms. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia include the loss of emotions and motivation, together with reductions in movement, speech and facial expression.


The hallucinations associated with schizophrenia commonly involve hearing voices, but people may also see, touch, taste, or smell things that do not exist. Any delusions experienced are typically believed to be true no matter what other people say and, in the case of a paranoid psychosis, they may center around ideas such as being spied upon. With psychosis and schizophrenia, almost any delusions are possible, including being an important or famous figure, having religious ideas, and thinking that ordinary events are unusually significant. Thought disorder may lead to experiences of thoughts that are heard by others, removed from or placed in the mind by outside agents, or completely blocked, so the person is unable to continue speaking.

In addition to the association between psychosis and schizophrenia, psychosis symptoms may be found in other mental illnesses and brain disorders. What is termed organic psychosis occurs as a result of physical damage to the brain, caused by conditions such as alcoholism or brain tumors. Alzheimer's and psychosis often occur together, and sometimes manic psychosis may be experienced during a manic episode of bipolar disorder, or manic depression.

Psychosis treatment generally involves treating the underlying illness. In the case of psychosis and schizophrenia, anti-psychotic drugs are usually administered, and these can relieve the psychosis for a time. Unfortunately, there is no completely successful long-term treatment, and patients often relapse and recover repeatedly. Research is being carried out into better treatment options which could be given earlier in the disease and effectively offer a cure.



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