What is the difference between psychosis and schizophrenia?

Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, mental illness and schizophrenia Different. Psychosis is a symptom of disconnection from reality. Schizophrenia is a disorder that can lead to psychosis.

People with schizophrenia experience psychotic symptoms as well as other symptoms. However, not all people with psychosis have schizophrenia.

This article explains the difference between psychosis and schizophrenia and shows how they are connected. It also explores symptoms and treatment options for each disorder.

What is mental illness?

Psychosis describes a loss of touch with reality. A period of psychosis is called a psychotic episode.

Psychotic episodes can occur alone or with:

  • mental disorders, such as schizophrenia
  • sleep deprivation
  • certain prescription drugs, including sedatives and stimulants
  • Substance use
  • medical conditions, such as Dementia

Understanding Mental Disorders

Symptoms of mental illness

Symptoms associated with psychosis include:

  • hallucination: Hallucinations describe what a person feels that is not actually real. This can include hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling things that feel real but not real.
  • Delusions: Delusions are false beliefs that are not based on reality. A person who experiences delusions does not change their beliefs even if there is evidence that the belief is wrong. An example might be believing that a celebrity is in love with them even though they have never met.
  • Agitation: This describes excessive physical or verbal activity. Symptoms of agitation may also include emotional distress, restlessness, or pacing.
  • Disorganized thinking or behavior: This describes disorganized or incomprehensible speech, writing, or thinking. This can make it difficult for someone to communicate with others and keep their minds on hold.

Early warning signs of psychosis include:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • overall hygiene decline
  • Inappropriate or lack of emotional response
  • withdraw from others
READ ALSO:  Common Risks of Untreated ADHD in Adults

What are other types of mental disorders?

Mental disorders associated with psychotic symptoms are called psychotic disorders. Besides schizophrenia, other mental disorders include:

  • schizoaffective disorder: Symptoms of this disorder may include hallucinations, delusions, and confusion, as well as depressive or manic moods.
  • schizophrenia: People with this disorder develop symptoms of schizophrenia in less than six months.
  • Paranoia: This describes strong, unalterable beliefs about things that are unreal or unreal, without experiencing hallucinations.
  • Transient psychotic disorder: This describes a sudden onset of psychotic symptoms lasting a month or less. Another episode may or may not happen in the future.
  • Substance-induced psychosis: This describes psychosis caused by the use of substances such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and alcohol.
  • Psychotic disorders caused by medical conditions: This describes disorders such as brain tumors, brain infections, or strokes that can cause psychotic symptoms.

Psycho can be limited to one episode. However, recurring attacks may occur as part of certain conditions.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that affects thought processes, mood, and behavior. To receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia, an individual must meet the criteria described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Criteria include frequent occurrence of the following two symptoms within a month. Symptoms include:

  • delusional
  • hallucination
  • disorganized speech
  • Disorganized or nervous behavior, describing restlessness, lack of movement, and/or erratic movement
  • Negative symptoms, such as little or no emotional expression and lack of motivation

For a diagnosis of schizophrenia, an individual must experience delusions, hallucinations, and/or disorganized speech, while meeting other criteria.

READ ALSO:  How to overcome any phobia

What are the three stages of schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia occurs in stages.

  1. prodromal period: During this phase (which can last from weeks to years), symptoms develop gradually, often including loss of interest in activities, social withdrawal, or difficulty concentrating. A strong focus on an idea or topic also develops.
  2. Active phase: This is called the acute phase of schizophrenia and is when psychotic symptoms appear. Symptoms can develop gradually or appear suddenly after the prodromal period.
  3. Residual stage: During this period, symptoms decrease, but the individual may feel withdrawn and have difficulty concentrating.

While the length of these phases varies from person to person, they tend to occur sequentially and may recur throughout a person’s life with schizophrenia.

What psychotic symptoms are associated with schizophrenia?

Psychotic symptoms associated with schizophrenia, also known as positive symptoms, include:

  • delusional
  • hallucination
  • Disorganized thoughts and words
  • disorganized behavior

What are some examples of psychosis in schizophrenia?

Psychotic symptoms in people with schizophrenia can be manifested as:

  • paranoia, such as believing they are being watched or controlled by an outside force
  • Trust that others can read their minds
  • Believing that ordinary events have special meaning to them, like a person sending them a message on TV
  • grandiose delusions, such as thinking that you are very important, very powerful, or have special abilities
  • Hearing non-existent noises or sounds, such as hearing a command
  • Quickly switch from topic to topic when speaking
  • coined words
  • Discuss seemingly unrelated ideas
  • Difficulty performing everyday tasks, such as self-care and hygiene
  • planning difficulty
  • Experiencing symptoms of catatonia, including stiffness, repetitive movements, or a lack of responsiveness to the environment
READ ALSO:  What to know about anti-anxiety drugs

How do antipsychotics work?

Symptoms of psychosis can be treated with antipsychotic drugs.Antipsychotics may work by blocking the effects of an overactive brain chemical dopamine, which affects mood, planning, and memory. This hyperactivity is thought to be responsible for psychotic symptoms.

Antipsychotics are generally divided into two categories:

  • Atypical or second-generation antipsychotics: These drugs inhibit the action of dopamine and affect levels of serotonin, a chemical associated with mood. They are often the first choice for the treatment of schizophrenia.
  • Classic or first-generation antipsychotics: These antipsychotics inhibit dopamine activity but do not affect serotonin.

Antipsychotic medications work differently for everyone and can cause side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider to determine the risks and benefits of these drugs.

Antipsychotic medications can take up to six weeks to work fully, but they may begin to help reduce psychotic symptoms within hours or days. If taken long-term, they may help prevent future psychotic episodes.

Never stop taking antipsychotic medication without consulting your healthcare provider. Stopping suddenly can be dangerous and cause withdrawal symptoms.


Psychosis is a symptom of losing touch with reality. Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder with multiple symptoms, including psychotic symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and confusion.

People with schizophrenia experience psychotic symptoms, however, people with psychotic symptoms do not necessarily have schizophrenia.

Psychotic symptoms can be caused by mental health disorders, sleep deprivation, medical conditions, substance use, or certain medications. Treatment includes antipsychotics.