Psychosis is an umbrella term for several psychiatric disorders.


Psychosis is an umbrella term for several psychiatric disorders. Possible symptoms include an impaired relationship with reality, delusions, hallucinations, distorted perceptions and changed emotions. Disorders of the self and thought disorders occur. The causes can be emotional or physical. Among others, drug abstinence and a good social network can have a preventive effect.


Symptoms depend on the form of psychosis and vary in severity

  • Odd behaviour that deviates from social norms
    • For outsiders, impossible/difficult to understand
    • Patients “live in their own world”
    • Patients often think that their environment has changed rather than they themselves
  • Personality changes
  • Thought disorders
  • Impaired relationship with reality (delusions, hallucinations)
  • Disorders of the self (impaired self-other distinction)
    • Patients feel estranged from their own being
    • Believe their thoughts and feelings are determined by others
    • Believe their thoughts are being “listened to” or stolen
  • Don't accept that they are ill (in particular during the acute stage)
  • Generally too much or too little mental activity
  • Social withdrawal
  • Generally can't cope with the usual demands of life

Causes and treatment


Endogenous/non-organic psychoses
Exogenous/organic psychoses

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Conversation
  • Psychological tests
  • Search for an underlying physical disease
    • Blood test
    • Physical examination
    • Imaging, e.g. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Possible therapies
  • Treatment of an underlying disease
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychotropic drugs
    • Antidepressants
    • Antipsychotics
    • Tranquillisers
  • Social support measures

What can I do myself?

  • Self-help group (sufferers and families)
  • Don’t use drugs
  • Avoid social withdrawal as far as possible
  • Family members play an important supporting role
    • Make sure that medication is taken regularly, if necessary
    • Social integration/structure
    • Recognise warning signs (e.g. suicidal thoughts, sudden changes)
    • Organise specialist support/measures in good time

When to see a doctor?

  • Perceptions, behaviour and thought patterns that interfere with everyday life
  • Feeling that “something is wrong”
  • Thinking problems
  • Emotional flattening
  • Withdrawal behaviour
  • Crude changes in personality, emotions and behaviour
  • Failure to accept something is wrong (frequent) despite presence of symptoms: family members should contact a specialist

Further information

Selbsthilfe Schweiz (Self-Help Support Switzerland)

"Leben mit Schizophrenie": Informationsplattform für Angehörige und Bezugspersonen (“Living with schizophrenia”: information platform for relatives and caregivers)


psychosis, postpartum psychosis, postnatal psychosis, psychotic disorder, psycho syndromes

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.