Psychotic disorders are among the leading global causes of health-related disability. In England, it is estimated that 10,700 people aged 16-64 will start treatment for psychosis during the year 2022. Psychotic experiences are a core feature of various mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, but they can also be a component in many other mental and physical health conditions such as bipolar disorder, severe depression or brain tumours.
Still, psychosis remains one of the most misunderstood mental health disorders and, due to this misunderstanding, is often associated with stigma and misconceptions.
People with psychosis often experience one or both of two core symptoms: hallucinations where they perceive something that other people don’t, and delusions where they hold certain judgements with total conviction despite evidence to the contrary. Hallucinations can affect all the senses and take various forms including auditory which can be referred to as voice hearing or hearing voices and visual where an individual can see things that are part of their alternative subjective reality.
Typically, psychotic disorders progress through a series of phases, from a time before symptoms are observed through to a potential later phase where symptoms have been present for some time.
However, after onset, the course that psychotic disorders take can vary extensively between individuals: some can experience a full recovery, while others might continue to experience symptoms throughout most of their lives.
Understanding and explaining this range of experience is vital to researchers, clinicians, people with lived experience and their carers and families.