The Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CCBT)

OnTrack - University of Hawaii at Manoa - Department of Psychology

What is Psychosis?

  • Psychosis involves a loss of contact with reality and difficulty telling the difference between what is real and what is not. 
  • Psychosis can affect the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. 
  • 3 out of every 100 people experience psychosis at some point in their lives. 
  • The first episode of psychosis typically occurs in a person’s late teens or early twenties. 
  • Symptoms may emerge suddenly or develop gradually over time. 
  • Psychosis occurs in both men and women of every ethnicity, culture, and socioeconomic group. 
  • Symptoms of psychosis vary from person to person and over time.
  • Psychosis is treatable and most people recover.

Common Symptoms of Psychosis


  • Hallucinations cause people to hear, see, taste, or feel things that are not there. 
  • Hallucinations can seem very real. For that reason, people who experience hallucinations often have difficulty believing that they are not real and that their senses may be tricking them.

Examples of hallucinations include:

  • hearing noises or voices that others don’t hear
  • seeing things that other don’t see
  • having unusual sensations in one’s body


  • Delusions are beliefs that a person holds despite evidence that those beliefs are not true or accurate. Examples include: 
  • Believing that one is being watched or followed
  • Believing that someone else is controlling one’s thoughts
  • Believing that others want to harm you
  • Believing that things in the environment have a special meaning just for you

Confused thinking

  • One’s thoughts, and the expression of those thoughts, don’t connect together in a way that makes sense. Examples include: 
  • Thoughts don’t make sense. 
  • Thoughts are jumbled together. 
  • Thoughts are racing too fast or are coming too slow

Changes in Behavior

  • Spend more time alone
  • Have less interest in socializing with friends and family, going to work or school, or otherwise engaging in activities one used to enjoy.
  • Not taking care of oneself as well as one used to (e.g., not bathing or dressing, may appear disheveled).
  • Behaviors that don’t seem to fit with the situation such as laughing when talking about something sad or upsetting or for no apparent reason.

Other symptoms that often go along with psychosis

  • Depression: Low mood, sadness, less interest in activities
  • Anxiety: Excessive fear or worry, feeling uncomfortable or anxious
  • Mania: Elevated or irritable mood, heightened arousal or energy level