Psychosis is the name given to a mental state when people lose touch with reality. It can mean that you are hearing things, ‘voices in my head’, or seeing things that aren’t there. It sometimes comes with feelings of paranoia.
Psychosis can be a sign of another mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Drugs, alcohol and stress can also cause psychotic episodes.
Sometimes psychosis might last for a few days, but it might last longer and might happen frequently. Although it can be very scary, psychosis is treatable. Sometimes young children can experience psychosis and can grow out of it. The important thing is to go to see your GP for a full diagnosis.
Signs of psychosis
If you are the person experiencing psychotic symptoms, you may well be convinced that what you are experiencing is normal. Sometimes it’s the people around us who realise things aren’t as they should be.
Just because you have one or more of the following symptoms it doesn’t mean that you have psychosis, but it is important to talk to your GP to find out what’s going on.
- Seeing, smelling and hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
- ‘Knowing’ things that seem unreal to other people (delusions)
- Becoming paranoid. Feeling like you are in danger or that you are being followed.
- Jumbled thoughts and problems with concentrating
- Experiences a feeling that you are being controlled from outside of yourself
- A sensation that time is not going at its normal speed, that it is speeding up or slowing down
Cannabis induced psychosis
Many professionals are concerned about the effects of cannabis on mental health, particularly for teenagers. During adolescence the brain goes through massive developmental changes where it reorders itself. Cannabis binds psychoactive substances to receptors in the brain. Regular cannabis use can have long-term psychological effects. Studies also show if you smoke cannabis you have a higher than average risk of developing schizophrenia. It’s possible that if you start smoking cannabis before the age of 15, you’re 4 times more likely to experience a psychotic state by the time you’re 26.
To find out more about cannabis use and psychosis visit Know Cannabis
What you can do about psychosis
The first step is to talk to someone you trust, perhaps a teacher, a family member or a councillor. You should also go to talk to your GP. They might refer you to CAMHS (the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) or another mental health professional.
Help in South Gloucestershire
Schools employ a variety of people to look after your wellbeing. Some of the titles of these staff may vary in your school but you will be able to find out about them from a teacher. Most schools have a nurse who will either have a drop-in clinic or you can make an appointment to see them.
GP – you can make an appointment to visit your doctor or a nurse at the surgery to talk about any worries or concerns you have.
CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) – these are community teams that help children and young people with emotional, behavioural and mental health difficulties.
Off the Record – free mental health support for 11-18 year olds. www.otrbristol.org.uk, 0808 808 9120.
South Gloucestershire Talking Therapies – free support for people aged 16 and over. https://iapt-sglos.awp.nhs.uk/, 0117 378 4270.
Network Counselling – for ages 11 and up. Call 01179507271 or visit www.network.org.uk (contribution required).
The Bridge Foundation – individual and family counselling, call 0117 9424510 or visit www.bridgefoundation.org.uk (charges apply).
Relate Avon – relationship counselling services available for young people aged 10-18. Call 0117 9428444 or visit www.relate-avon.org.uk (charges apply).
Other information and support
ChildLine – free helpline for children and young people to talk about any problem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 0800 1111 www.childline.org.uk
The Mix: telephone and email support for under 25’s. Freephone 0808 808 4994 (1pm-11pm) Crisis Messenger 85258 www.themix.org.uk
Kooth – Free, safe and anonymous online counselling support for young people aged 11-18yrs olds.
Rethink Mental Illness Offers help to people with severe mental illness (not only schizophrenia) and their carers.
Samaritans – if something is troubling you call 08457 90 90 90 or email email@example.com
Talk to Frank Helps you find out everything you might want to know about drugs (and some stuff you don’t).
YoungMinds – Information to young people about mental health and emotional well-being. YoungMinds have also developed HeadMeds gives young people in England general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different.
Get self-help – free online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) resources, www.getselfhelp.co.uk.
Reading Well; Shelf help – a list of recommended books to help young people deal with a range of issues, available in all libraries. https://reading-well.org.uk/books/books-on-prescription/young-people-mental-health