Psychosis is a condition where a person experiences reality in a different way to others [40012]. It is characterised by hallucinations (hearing, seeing, feeling or smelling things that are not there), delusions (persistent, false beliefs), confused thinking and changes to regular emotions and behaviours. Psychosis can be a frightening experience, however those who go through it can make a good recovery and live healthy, productive lives.

Risk factors including drug use, stressful or traumatic life experiences, and genetics can make a person more vulnerable to developing psychosis. However, it is important to note that a person who experiences psychotic symptoms does not necessarily have a psychotic disorder. It can be a one-off experience, or when a psychotic disorder is present, a symptom of any of the following conditions:

  • schizophrenia
  • bipolar disorder
  • substance/medication induced psychosis
  • depression with psychotic symptoms
  • postpartum psychosis
  • delusional disorder
  • brief psychotic episode [40012][43150].

When considering  psychosis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it is important to understand  the context of a person’s behaviour [43151]. For example, for some Aboriginal people, seeing spirits or hearing voices of deceased loved ones are normal cultural experiences, and in fact, these behaviours can be protective determinants of social and emotional wellbeing [43151][43191].


Key resources



Untitled by Donna Lei Rioli

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of people who have passed away.
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.