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What Does Psychosis Feel Like?

According to a 2018 study from the University of Málaga (Spain), about one of every 150 people will have at least one psychotic episode during their lifetime. With a current global population of about 7.98 billion, this means that more than 50 million people will be experience psychosis. How will these millions of people be affected? What symptoms will they develop? What does psychosis feel like?

About Psychosis

Before we delve into what psychosis feels like, it is important to understand what psychosis is (and isn’t). The term psychosis refers to an impaired ability to perceive the world around you. Psychosis can also include difficulties in communication with others.

Psychosis is not a mental health disorder, but it can be a symptom of certain types of mental illness. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) groups these conditions into the category Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders:

  • Delusional disorder
  • Brief psychotic disorder
  • Schizophreniform disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder

Psychosis can also result from the following:

  • Head injuries
  • Substance abuse
  • Prescription medication
  • Brain tumor
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Trauma

Now that we have a better understanding of what can cause psychosis, it’s time to address the key question of today’s post: What does psychosis feel like?

What Does Psychosis Feel Like an What Are The Symptoms?

Woman who knows what psychosis does feel like as she experiences symptoms

To answer the question, what does psychosis feel like, it is important to know common indicators. The three main symptoms of psychosis are hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking. Some people who have psychosis struggle with all three symptoms, while others may only experience one or two. 


Hallucinations involve perceiving things that do not actually exist. The most common forms of hallucinations are auditory (hearing sounds or voices) and visual (seeing lights, objects, or people). Less common hallucinations are tactile (touch), gustatorial (taste), and olfactory (smell). 

If you have hallucinations, it can feel like this:

  • You hear a voice that no one else can hear. The voice may sound like it’s coming from inside your head, or from somewhere else. Even if you believe that the voice is emanating from inside your head, you know it is distinct from your own thoughts.   
  • You see a person who is standing or sitting in the room with you. No one else can see this person.
  • You hear music, a telephone ringing in the distance, or a persistent buzzing noise that no one else notices.
  • You feel bugs crawling across (or underneath) your skin. This is excruciating, but you cannot stop it.
  • The walls of the room you’re in seem to be breathing in and out.
  • When you look at people, you see auras of light and/or colors around them.
  • You see streaks or flashes of light, either directly in front of you or in your peripheral vision.


Delusions are firm, rigid beliefs that are demonstrably untrue or that clearly have no basis in reality. If you have delusions, it might feel like this:

  • You believe that you are being monitored or followed by a government agency or other organization. As a result, you may refuse to speak on the phone or communicate via email. You might alter your behavior patterns or take other evasive steps.
  • You think that someone you know is poisoning you or otherwise attempting to kill you. This may cause you to sever your friendship, attack the other person, or report them to the police. 
  • You are convinced that someone is in love with you. This person might be a celebrity who you’ve never even met. When you see this person with someone else, you may become enraged. This delusion can cause you to stalk the person. 
  • You are certain that you have a special talent, or perhaps even magical powers. This may include believing that you are extremely wealthy, that you have world-class athletic skills, or that you can control world events via your thoughts. 

Disorganized Thinking

Disorganized thinking undermines your ability to concentrate, focus, and communicate. If you struggle with disordered thinking, you might feel like this:

  • When you try to talk to other people, you speak very rapidly and abruptly jump from topic to topic. You may even use sounds or words that have no meaning to the person you’re talking to. It can be infuriating when other people clearly do not understand you. 
  • Your mind races so quickly that you can’t keep up. Trying to hold one thought or maintain one logical progression of thoughts in your mind is virtually impossible. 
  • When someone else is talking, you cannot follow the conversation. If they ask you a question, you might simply repeat the question back to them, or give an answer that is in no way related to what they just asked.

How is Psychosis Treated in Atlanta, GA?

The two most common elements of treatment for psychosis are medication and therapy. The prescription medications that are often used to treat people who have psychosis are called, appropriately enough, antipsychotics. This general category is often divided into the following two subgroups:

  • First-generation or typical antipsychotics: Most of the medications in this subgroup were developed in the 1950s. They primarily focus on how the central nervous system produces, transmits, and stores dopamine. Many first generation antipsychotics have strong side effects, which can include altering how a person moves their body.
  • Second-generation or atypical antipsychotics: Medications in this subgroup were first produced in the 1990s. In addition to targeting dopamine, they also affect the body’s production and storage of serotonin. Second-generation antipsychotics don’t usually impair muscle movements, but their side effects can include weight gain.

The therapeutic part of treatment for psychosis can help people learn to manage symptoms that are not alleviated by medication. Therapy can also help people develop skills that will enable them to function more effectively within their families and communities.

Begin Treatment for Psychosis in Atlanta, GA

Peachtree Wellness Solutions offers comprehensive care for adults whose lives have been impacted by psychosis and other mental health concerns. Treatment options at our facility in Atlanta, GA, include residential care, a partial hospitalization program, and an intensive outpatient program. At all levels, our clients receive personalized services from compassionate professionals. To learn how we can help you or someone that you care about, please give us a call or visit our admissions page.