Psychotic Behavior: Signs And Symptoms Of Psychosis

By: Mary Elizabeth Dean

Updated August 30, 2019

Medically Reviewed By: Dawn Brown

Psychotic behavior is categorized by its way of causing the person affected to have a skewed idea of reality. It can cause one to experience hallucinations or delusions, which are sensory experiences in which someone sees or feels something that isn't there.

The signs and symptoms of psychosis can be terrifying and are life-altering for those that experience them. Psychosis often appears alongside a mental illness such as schizophrenia, but it can also be present in those with other health conditions or who use drugs or other medications that are associated with such side effects.

Psychotic Behavior: Loss Of Touch With Reality

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The hallmark symptom of psychosis is a loss of touch with reality. Those who are experiencing psychosis can have extreme difficulty differentiating between what is happening and what they see.

When the shift in reality occurs, this leaves a person disoriented and confused. They may have hallucinations of things or people who are not there. These hallucinations can be euphoric or terrifying. Depending on the experience the person is having at the time, they can be considered dangerous.

A person that is experiencing a negative hallucination may resist help or lash out at others. Their frustration may be furthered by those who insist on what they are seeing, or feeling isn't real. The truth of the matter is these moments are their reality.

Whether or not these events are grounded in the real world or not, they are very real to a person experiencing psychosis.

Psychotic Behavior: Unclear Speech

When experiencing a psychotic episode, a person may slur their words or emit some other unclear speech.

A study shows that our words form from pre-existing thoughts and emotions. When these thoughts and emotions are disturbed by psychotic behavior, this has a significant impact on our linguistics. When a person's brain is not rooted in reality, the words that come out when having a conversation can seem nonsensical.

In addition to slurring words, a person with psychotic or schizophrenic behavior may switch the sentence mid-thought. They will trail several ideas together into one thought, which often does not make sense. They also pay little attention to grammar. This can prove to be very confusing in conversation.

Psychotic Behavior: Disorganized Behavior

Disorganized behavior goes hand in hand with the other symptoms, those with psychotic or schizophrenia behaviors experience.

Some examples of disorganized behaviors include dressing for the wrong season or disregarding the environment around them. One might also inappropriately respond to the news given to them or have difficulty managing their emotions or responses.

This can be perceived as very confusing to outsiders that don't understand the disease. Although we may not understand it, it is important to understand the reality of their thoughts and emotions and try not to interfere too much. This can cause further confusion and disorientation to the person suffering.

Problems Sleeping

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Because of the frequency of delusions or hallucinations, sleep can be a difficult thing to accomplish.

Anxiety is often off the charts in a person with psychosis. Additionally, it can be almost impossible to "shut off" one's mind to relax and get some shut-eye. Delusions can also affect this portion of life because the fear of going to sleep is often a part of that.

No matter how outrageous a belief might be, as with hallucinations and delusions, they are very real to a person with schizophrenia. Unfortunately, lack of sleep has also been known to trigger hallucinations and delusions in patients with this problem. Much of the time, medications are administered to help one sleep in an attempt to minimize this symptom.

Lack Of Motivation

For a person that is not in touch with reality, staying motivated to do things required of an adult can be strenuous.

On the other hand, a person with schizophrenic tendencies may have trouble prioritizing and understanding what he or she should be motivated to be doing in the first place. It is a common occurrence for a person in psychosis to focus all their energy on their hallucinations and delusions. This leaves little room for much else.

Difficult Functioning

Depending on the severity of a person's psychotic behavior, it can be very difficult to take on normal daily tasks.

They may have a belief that someone is watching or out to get them, which may cause them to remain housebound. Additionally, they could be experiencing frequent hallucinations, which make it very difficult to carry out any task that would take more than a few seconds.

For this reason, many people that experience psychosis is watched over by a caretaker. Additionally, a therapist is normally seen regularly to assist with the negative effects of the ailment.

Withdrawal From Social Situations

Another common symptom of psychosis is withdrawal from social situations. This is also a sign that someone may be going into a psychotic state.

Normally social people may shrink into the background or stop coming to social events. Similarly, if you are at an event with someone with psychosis, you may notice them be withdrawn or distressed.

This is because overstimulation is a common trigger for delusions and hallucinations. When many people are speaking at once, or when one is in a strange environment, the lack of stability and familiarity cause anxiety. Heightened anxiety triggers receptors in the brain of a psychotic person and could bring on a hallucination.

Additionally, the realization that they are misunderstood or scaring other people can cause them to want to withdraw as well. Even though psychotic behaviors are widely misunderstood, they are often not threatening or violent. It is just as important that a person with psychosis receive friendliness and acceptance as any other person.

Preoccupation With Strange Fears

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Preoccupation with strange fears goes hand in hand with delusions. This can be a trait like believing someone is watching them or out to get them but can go much deeper.

A common complaint of those with psychosis is the idea that their thoughts are being broadcast for all to hear. They don't understand that the voices in their heads aren't something that others can hear. They may feel like they have a megaphone to their head and that many people can hear each and everything they are thinking.

Lavish conspiracy theories can also be formed in the brains of a psychotic person. They may believe the government is an evil entity or that larger powers are at work to demolish them or others. Additionally, they may have a strange fear of god or other religious figures.

Increase Or Decrease In Appetite

With all of the hustle and bustle in the mind of a person with psychosis, a change in appetite is common.

When experiencing an episode, it is common for an increase or decrease in appetite to occur. This can also be a result of a hallucination or delusion that is particularly disturbing. Following an episode, the anxiety can be so severe that it makes it difficult to eat, or a person can be so relieved that the episode is over that they are ready to regain their energy and eat a hearty meal!

Another reason one might forget to eat is because of preoccupation with all the thoughts swirling around in their heads. This is why it is important that anyone is experiencing these kinds of symptoms to enlist a caretaker for assistance.

Changes In Personality

There have been several cases in which a person who is going through a psychotic episode appears to be a completely different person while doing so.

The loss of a touch of reality is much to blame for this, certainly. The distressing and anxious feelings that are brought on would be enough to make anyone skew. In addition to this, many irrational thoughts and actions can result from the very scary things that may happen during an episode.

When the episode passes, the normal personality will likely return. There is no telling how long the personality shift will last, but it will surely dissipate with time until the next episode occurs.

Beliefs Of Grandiosity

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Grandiosity is the belief of one being extremely superior to any other person. They may think they are the king of the world in a sense, and that no one (or only a very small group of people) understand or are equal to them.

This also causes an inflated sense of self-esteem. It can go hand in hand with narcissism as well.

Another aspect of grandiosity may be the belief that a person has a special relationship with world leaders or religious figures. They may have a deep belief that they were chosen to save the world or to save mankind. Similarly, they could believe that they have superpowers or that they can fly.

These behaviors are classified under the umbrella of delusions but deserve a section of their own. These are not one size fits all examples, since grandiosity can take many shapes and forms depending on the person and severity of their illness. This is why seeking help from a specialist is so important.


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