Living with Psychosis

Mental illness can affect many areas of your life. But we are here to help. This section has information on many aspects of your daily life, from physical health to work and education.


There are many medications in mental health and it’s often difficult to know how to know which is the best for you. We can help you understand their differences, potential benefits and possible negative side-effects.


If you experience psychosis as part of your illness, you may be offered antipsychotic medication. Antipsychotics are generally used to treat psychosis, but are also used to treat bipolar disorder.

  • There are two generations of antipsychotics. The older first generation and newer second generation.
  • Antipsychotics affect people differently. If you take antipsychotics then you may get side effects.
  • It can take some time to find the right medication.
  • If you are taking an antipsychotic which you feel is not working, or if the side effects are difficult to live with, then you should discuss this with your GP or psychiatrist.
  • You should not stop taking antipsychotics suddenly.
  • Your antipsychotics can interact with other medications. It is important that your doctor is aware of all the medicine you are taking. Including any homeopathic medication.

What are antipsychotics?

Psychosis is a medical term. If you have psychosis, you might see or hear things (hallucinations) that are not there or you might have ideas or beliefs that do not match reality (delusions). Some people describe it as a break from reality. Doctors may call these ‘psychotic symptoms’, a ‘psychotic episode’ or a ‘psychotic experience’.

Psychotic symptoms can be part of conditions such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, personality disorder and bipolar disorder. But some people can have psychotic symptoms without having any of these conditions.

If you have psychosis, your doctor may offer you antipsychotic medication to help you with your symptoms. Antipsychotics can help to control symptoms of psychosis. This can help you feel more in control of your life, particularly if you are finding the psychotic symptoms distressing.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 4 out of 5 people who take antipsychotics find they are successful in treating their symptoms. It is not possible to predict which one will work best for you, so you may have to try a few before you find the right one.

Some antipsychotics are used to treat mania (which is a symptom of illnesses such as bipolar disorder) and psychotic symptoms of depression.

How do antipsychotics work?

Your brain contains chemicals which help to carry messages from one part of the brain to another. One of these chemicals is called dopamine. It is thought that high levels of dopamine may cause the brain to function differently and may cause the symptoms of psychosis. Antipsychotic medications reduce the amount of dopamine in the brain or restore the balance of dopamine with other chemicals in the brain.

Tags: antipsychotics, mental health, psychosis

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