What Causes Psychosis?

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Psychosis arises as part of another mental health condition. Psychosis is categorized into three main groups, based on the cause of the condition and these include:

  • Psychosis resulting from a mental or psychological condition
  • Psychosis resulting from a general medical health condition
  • Psychosis resulting from drug abuse or alcohol misuse

Psychosis due to mental disorders

Psychosis is a feature of certain mental illnesses, examples of which include:

Schizophrenia
This is a long term disorder that is typically characterized by hallucinations and delusions.

Bipolar disorder
This is a mood disorder, characterized by a mood that swings between depressive and manic. It is also called manic depressive psychosis.

Major depressive disorder can cause psychosis.

Severe stress, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, dementia, or insomnia may also result in psychosis

Psychosis due to medical disorders

Psychosis may be seen in several debilitating medical conditions such as:

Psychosis due to drug and substance abuse

Drug abuse and alcoholism may also lead to psychosis and examples of substances that can induce the condition include:

  • Binge drinking
  • Alcohol withdrawal in alcoholics
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamine or methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy or MDMA
  • Mephedrone or MCAT
  • LSD
  • Cannabis
  • Ketamine
  • Magic mushrooms or psilocybins

Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc

Sources

  1. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/psychosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  2. http://eppic.org.au/sites/eppic.org.au/files/Fact1whatis.pdf
  3. http://www.mhfa.com.au/documents/guidelines/8195_MHFA_psychosis_guidelines.pdf
  4. http://www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/Publishing.nsf/content/FE16C454A782A8AFCA2575BE002044D0/$File/m717.pdf
  5. http://www.mifa.org.au/sites/www.mifa.org.au/files/documents/164819%20Understanding%20Psychosis.pdf

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jan 14, 2014

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Comments
  1. G. G. G. G. United States says:

    The listed "functional causes" for psychosis are incorrect. Functional disorders do not have a known or obvious physical cause. Organic disorders have a known physical cause such as a brain tumor, sleep deprivation, or taking high doses of stimulants. The correct term for your list is "organic causes."

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