Psychosis is a psychiatric syndrome that most commonly occurs in young adults. Around one in 50 people will experience a psychotic episode in their lifetime. A person who has a psychotic illness may have delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking or abnormal behaviour. When someone becomes ill in this way, it is called a psychotic episode.

Signs and Symptoms

Psychosis affects an individual’s thoughts, feelings, behaviour and communication.

Thinking/Perception — the person may:

think that others are against him or talking about him
think that he is receiving personal messages from the TV or radio
experience heightened senses
hear voices
think that they have special powers

Feeling — the person may:

feel sad and irritable more often
feel isolated
be confused or puzzled
feel that he is unable to trust anyone
feel that he is being constantly watched

Behaviour — the person may:

have difficulty sleeping
talk or smile to himself
neglect his appearance
avoid contact with people
behave aggressively


Research shows that early detection — and treatment — of psychosis is associated with a better prognosis. It can be treated and most people make a full recovery.  

There are new and effective medicines, as well as improved treatment programmes that optimise recovery and functioning and which contribute to a better outcome for individuals with psychosis. 

Besides medication, counselling and psychotherapy, practical assistance such as getting help with school or work and arranging accommodation are other important aspects of treatment. 

Specialised Programme

The Early Psychosis Intervention Programme at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) emphasises early detection and treatment. The team works closely with healthcare professionals in other hospitals, polyclinics and social agencies to help spot the early signs of mental disorders among those aged 16 to 40. EPIP also works with educational institutions and youth workers to identify the onset of psychosis among young people. 

These partners help refer patients to IMH or, if applicable, jointly assess them. At EPIP, every outpatient is assigned a case manager who will assist in managing their overall needs. Psychosis can be treated with medication, psychological support and good family support.  

Besides seeing clients at outpatient clinics, EPIP emphasises psychosocial programmes that help clients in their recovery. Groups and day activities are run at Club EPIP, which help to address issues relating to social skills, stigma, leading a healthy lifestyle and cognitive remediation, just to name a few. The aim of these is to help clients to return to their appropriate role and engage in meaningful activities. For more information, please visit EPIP's website at or contact EPIP at 6389 2972 between 9am to 5pm on Mondays to Fridays for enquiries. 

IMH also provides assessment and treatment for psychosis in individuals of other age groups. To make an appointment to see a doctor, please call the IMH appointment line at 6389 2200.  
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