What Causes Psychosis?

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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:

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:

  • Infections - Certain infections with bacteria, viruses and parasites such as HIV and AIDS, syphilis, malaria and Lyme's disease.
  • Parkinson's disease - A drug used to treat Parkinson's disease cam cause symptoms of psychosis
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Abnormally low levels of blood sugar or hypoglycemia
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Brain tumours
  • Electrolyte disorders such as low or high levels of calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium or phosphates

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

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  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."

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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