If a person suspects that he / she or a loved one is suffering from psychosis, it is important to remember that the condition is treatable and seek the help of a professional as soon as possible.



The prevalence of psychosis is usually not difficult to identify. Delusions (strange thoughts), hallucinations (seeing, hearing or experiencing things that others do not experience) and confusing speech (confusing and getting rid of nonsensical things) are clearly deviating from normal. There is also a dramatic change in the person's behavior as he or she experiences a different reality.



The following 5 symptoms are indicative, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – 5), which is accepted worldwide as the most authoritative source. Please note Please note that an official diagnosis may only be made by a qualified person.

Delusions Delusions are thoughts that cannot be explained or deciphered by outsiders; nor can the person be convinced that his or her thinking is "strange" and illogical.
Hallucinations The person sees, hears or experiences things on a sensory level that others do not experience.
Disorganized speech The person talks confused and nonsense.
Strange, disorganized behavior Behavior that has no purpose.
Emotional bluntness Decreased range or expression of emotions.



  1. Why is treatment needed for psychosis?
    Treatment is very important for psychosis because the person experiences a different reality and therefore cannot function effectively during psychosis. As with any other condition, psychosis occurs to varying degrees, but psychiatric uptake and medication are essential in the treatment of psychosis.
  2. Who can diagnose me or a loved one?
    Because psychosis is so complex, we would advise you to be tested and diagnosed only by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. They are trained to distinguish between different disorders.
  3. What role does a psychologist play in my treatment?
    A clinical psychologist can diagnose psychosis and treat psychotherapy in collaboration with a psychiatrist. This means he or she can help you understand what your diagnosis is, how to live with it, and how to apply a strategy that can lead to behavioral change. A psychologist in South Africa may not prescribe medication and usually works with a psychiatrist in a team.



If a loved one or friend is diagnosed with psychosis or schizophrenia, your support and motivation can play a very important role in accepting and managing the diagnosis. The following are guidelines for supporting an individual:

  • Be patient. People who struggle with a concept of reality do not always have the ability to say how they feel or what they experience. Give them a chance to get used to the diagnosis first, and then gradually start taking concrete steps that the person can take to manage his or her daily life.
  • Be informed by building up knowledge of psychosis and schizophrenia. The more you and your loved one, family member or colleague know about the disease, the more you can work together on ways to support the person in his or her management of the disease.
  • Ask what your loved one needs from you. One can easily assume that you know what is best for another person, but the easiest is to ask how he or she wants you to act.
  • Listen to the person. Do not give advice or try to reason with him or her logically. It is important for the person to take responsibility for the illness and the effect it will have on his or her life. When someone makes choices on behalf of someone else, it may cause the person to become dependent on the helper and then not want to fight the disease himself. It is not your illness, but your loved one's. Listening is a wonderful way to support someone with this condition.
  • Get to know the signs and symptoms so you can act early. Everyone's symptoms do not manifest in the same way; therefore, it is important to know and understand in advance how this particular person's symptoms will manifest. For example, when your loved one experiences a sudden break with reality, you can take time to deal with it.
  • Do physical activities with the individual. It is not a cliché that regular exercise helps people with psychological diagnoses. It relieves tension and anxiety, and aids in the production of low-mood nutrients. Regular exercise is therefore a successful anti-depressant.
  • Encourage a healthy eating and sleeping pattern. An established routine not only helps the person manage their illness, but also helps to see signs / symptoms early.
  • Take a good look at yourself! Remember, a person with diagnosed psychosis or schizophrenia in your life can also negatively impact you by involving you in their disorder. Living with a person who has been diagnosed with psychosis or schizophrenia can feel frustrating, exhausting and sometimes chaotic. Make time for yourself too.


If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, we suggest the following options:
  1. call your GP (if available);
  2. go to your nearest hospital emergency room;
  3. call one of the following emergency numbers: SADAG (the South African Depression and Anxiety Group) 24-hour helpline: 0800 456 789 or suicide crisis line: 0800 567 567; or
  4. contact Wie is ek?