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Treatment - Psychosis

Treatment for psychosis involves:

  • a combination of antipsychotic medicines
  • psychological therapies
  • social support

Your care team

Treatment is likely to involve a team of mental health professionals working together. If this is your first psychotic episode, you may be referred to your community mental health team (CMHT).

Early intervention

The mental health team works with people who have had their first psychotic episode.

Depending on your care needs, the mental health team aim to provide:

  • a full assessment of your needs
  • medicine
  • psychological therapies
  • social, occupational and educational interventions

Treatment for psychosis will depend on the underlying cause. You'll receive specific treatment if you have another mental health condition as well.


Antipsychotic medicines are usually recommended as the first treatment for psychosis. They work by blocking the effect of dopamine, a chemical that transmits messages in the brain.

Antipsychotics are not suitable or effective for everyone.

Talk to your doctor if you have:

  • epilepsy - a condition that causes seizures or fits
  • cardiovascular disease - a condition that affects the heart, blood vessels and circulation

They will monitor you for any side effects.

Antipsychotics can usually reduce feelings of anxiety and distress within a few hours of use. But they may take several days or weeks to reduce psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusional thoughts.

Antipsychotics can be taken by mouth (orally) or given as an injection. There are several slow-release antipsychotics, where you only need one injection every 2 to 6 weeks.

Side effects

Antipsychotics can cause side effects. Not everyone will experience them. Their severity will differ from person to person.

Side effects can include:

  • drowsiness
  • shaking and trembling
  • weight gain
  • restlessness
  • muscle twitches and spasms – where your muscles shorten tightly and painfully
  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • constipation
  • loss of sex drive (libido)
  • dry mouth

Tell your GP or mental health worker if you have bad side effects. There may be a different medicine you can take that causes less side effects.

Do not stop taking medicine unless advised to do so by a GP or healthcare professional.

Suddenly stopping prescription medicine could trigger a return of your symptoms (relapse). When it's time for you to stop taking your medicine, it will be done gradually.

Psychological treatment

Psychological treatment can help reduce the intensity and anxiety caused by psychosis.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) helps you manage your problems by thinking more positively. It can help you change unhelpful patterns of behaviour.

Talking therapies

Family intervention

Family intervention is a way of helping both you and your family cope with your condition.

After having an episode of psychosis, you may rely on your family members for care and support. A new or ongoing condition can be stressful. Therapy can help you cope with your condition as a family.

Family therapy involves a series of meetings that take place over a specific period of time.

Meetings may include:

  • discussing your condition and how it might progress
  • the available treatments
  • exploring ways of supporting someone with psychosis
  • deciding how to solve problems caused by psychosis, such as how to manage future episodes

Self-help groups

It can be helpful to talk to people who have had similar experiences.

Psychosis is not psychopathy

Psychosis is very different to psychopathy (being a psychopath).

Acts of violence and aggression are fairly uncommon in people with psychosis. They're more likely to be victims of violence than to harm others.

Involuntary admission

In certain circumstances, you may have to be admitted to hospital even though you do not want to go. This is called an ‘involuntary admission’.

Your rights

The Mental Health Act 2001 protects the rights of individuals admitted involuntarily.

If you are admitted involuntarily you will be provided with a solicitor free-of-charge. The solicitor will help you to prepare for your mental health tribunal hearing.

An independent consultant psychiatrist will assess you. They will write and submit a report on the assessment. The consultant psychiatrist is independent from the hospital and the mental health service.

Mental health tribunal

A mental health tribunal reviews cases of people who have been admitted involuntarily. They will decide if the order is continued or cancelled.

Find out more about mental health tribunals -

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

Page last reviewed: 1 September 2022
Next review due: 1 September 2025