Getty Images/Marjan_Apostolovic

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Content warning

Depression, trauma, anxiety, and suicidal ideation are mentioned in the article.

If you’re thinking of hurting yourself or are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

In the case of a mental health emergency, you can call the emergency number.

I have been working in healthcare publishing for years and am grateful for my first chance to write about my mental health journey when I started working for Healthline.

I was diagnosed with psychosis several years ago, after I took myself to the emergency room. My symptoms were a sensory hallucination, confusion, paranoia, fear, and disconnection from reality. I stopped sleeping for weeks and was in a difficult situation, both of which contributed to the episode.

I currently take Zoloft (an antidepressant) and Abilify (an antipsychotic). Earlier in my life, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and major depressive disorder (also called clinical depression). I have managed those conditions over the years with therapy, medication, exercise, creative activities, and communicating with my support system.

It took me a long time to feel ready to talk about it. It took me years to feel ready. I was doing so much work on what could have contributed to my first episode of psychosis that it was nearly impossible to come to terms with the self-stigma and fears I had about what others would think. That came later for me. My recovery has been mostly through the COVID-19 Pandemic, and I have made appointments with my therapist and psychiatrist via the internet.

I spoke with Tamara Welikson, PhD, PA & NYS Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Manager of the UPENN Psychosis Evaluation and Recovery Center, about what psychosis is.

“Individuals with psychosis may experience changes in their thinking that are hard to understand. There are a number of symptoms, including hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and feeling things others don’t, delusions, and negative symptoms.”

“The brain creates these symptoms and they are perceived as real to the person who is experiencing them. The effects of untreated psychosis on a person’s well-being, functioning, and relationships can be marked. Early intervention and treatment can be used to improve and recover.”

Types of psychosis

Psychosis can also be a symptom or feature of other mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and delusional disorder. Psychosis possibly related to COVID-19 is also being studied.

Signs of possible psychosis

  • A decline in functioning or self-care.
  • Thinking clearly or forming organized thoughts can be difficult.
  • There is uneasiness with others.
  • perceptual delusions or perceptual hallucinations
  • social isolation

Emerging psychosis or early psychosis can occur in adolescents and young adults (ages 16 to 30). And 3 out of 100 people will experience psychosis at some point in their lives.

“I was taken to a behavioral health center after spending the day in the hospital’s crisis response center. I received treatment for mental health issues there. I started to feel better once I started taking medication and sleeping again. I continued to see my therapist after I left.”

“I didn’t know that one needs a lot of time and care to recover from an episode of psychosis. I was unsure about the medications I was taking at that time. I found a program for psychosis recovery. The treatment approach is a combination of therapy, medication management, peer support, employment and education services, family education, and recovery oriented therapy for families.”

“Peer support has been very helpful for me. I didn’t have anyone in my support system who had been through psychosis, so talking with a peer who had some shared experiences was incredibly validation and encouraging in my recovery.”

For daily stability, I developed a check-in list with my therapist. I check in with myself on a number of items: eating, exercise, sleep & energy, paranoia, suicidal ideation, anxiety, stress level, mindfulness, fun weekend activities, work, and relationship.

“It was difficult to process that I had had a mental illness. I was trying to figure it out and relive it, as if I was going to find an answer to the question. I am still learning to allow myself to be a human. I wrote my story with my therapist’s help, which was very helpful in re-framing events that have occurred throughout my life.”

I want to sleep a lot. I want to take good care of my brain and body. I sit with my feelings. I practice calming my nervous system by thinking of myself as safe and loved.

I have learned how to list the facts of a situation. I talk with my friends and partner if I feel like it.

I have found some products and apps to be helpful in my recovery.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $15
  • $$ = $15–$30
  • $$$ = over $30


  • Price: free–$$ (depending on your subscription)

A basic subscription gives you access to self-assessments, a mood and sleep journal, and guided journeys, for free.

There are also a community where you can have discussions and join chat groups. Sanvello has collections that range from parenting to financial stress. Aly Raisman has a collection for anyone who has experienced trauma. You can use the Tools feature to create a Hope board, a thought journal, and more.

Premium access costs $8.49 a month. The premium version of the app has more features.

  • Every journey is guided.
  • All the tools for CBT.
  • The full library of meditation books.
  • unlimited health tracking

Premium content and mental health coaching are included in this level of the app.

The Sanvello app has therapy available. The price per appointment is based on the length of the session, whether or not you use an Employee Assistance Program, and how much your insurance may cover. The app says that a first therapy appointment is usually $140 and follow-ups are $85.

You can check to see if your health insurance provider or employer will cover some or all of the costs.

‘The Soul of an Octopus’ by Sy Montgomery

  • Price: $

I read many books by Montgomery before and after my episode of psychosis. She has received lifetime achievement awards from the Humane Society and the New England Booksellers Association, and she has written 31 nonfiction books.

Her work shows the unique connections between humans and animals. The book explores consciousness and the soul.

Passport to National Parks

  • Price: $

The National Parks Passport is something that I have been meaning to get since I recovered from psychosis. You can get stamps from various parks. I have had new experiences that have helped me move forward in my recovery.

I got a stamp from Alcatraz and rode my bike across the Golden Gate Bridge with my partner. Federal and state park admission is affordable, and camping is also.

There are many myths about psychosis. I believe media perpetuates stereotypes.

Psychosis is portrayed in a way that makes it look like people act out in horrible ways. While people in psychosis may commit crimes, they are also often expressed as paranoia, confusion, fear, and suicidal ideation. In movies,psychotic medication is portrayed in a negative way. The Roommate shows that a character who has been prescribed an antipsychotic has not been taking it, and that she stalks and murders people.

Lady Gaga revealed in an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations that she had a psychotic episode (she refers to it as a psychotic break) and in her recovery, started taking Olzanapine (also known as Zyprexa, an antipsychotic medication). I sobbed when I heard this — her willingness to be open with the public to reduce the stigma while telling her story was especially comforting to me. She also discussed it in the first episode of the Apple TV+ mental health docuseries, The Me You Can’t See.

“I used to be scared of the word psychosis, and even more scared of what happened to me. With helpful resources, therapists, medication, and along with my support system, I have overcome that fear.”

I spoke with H. Steven Lawley, MA, LPC, a therapist at the UPENN Psychosis Evaluation and Recovery Center, about what treatment looks like.

The misconception is that once a person is diagnosed with psychosis, they will lose their freedom to make their own decisions. There are very limited circumstances that require an individual to be hospitalized. When a person suffering from psychosis presents a clear and imminent danger to themselves and the community, involuntary hospitalization is only considered.

Lawley notes that early diagnosis and treatment of psychosis is important to producing the best possible treatment outcomes.

If you or someone you know is suffering from psychosis, they may be having some difficulty revealing their symptoms because of fear that they will lose their freedom, independence, or autonomy. We all can relate to this fear.

“He states that taking an active role in one’s own treatment is an essential part of the recovery process.”

Lawley believes that it is important that we address misconception about psychosis and support people who are dealing with symptoms of the condition.

I used to be afraid of the word psychosis and what happened to me. I have overcome that fear with help from my support system. It does not define me, even though I have an experience with psychosis.