A young man experiences psychosis.

How Long Does Psychosis Last?

July 1, 2024

4 min.

The duration of psychosis varies widely, ranging from a single episode lasting a few days to a chronic condition that persists for months or even years.

By: Charlie Health Editorial Team

Clinically Reviewed By: Sarah Lyter

Learn more about our Clinical Review Process

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How Long Does Psychosis Last?

July 1, 2024

4 min.

The duration of psychosis varies widely, ranging from a single episode lasting a few days to a chronic condition that persists for months or even years.

By: Charlie Health Editorial Team

Clinically Reviewed By: Sarah Lyter

Learn more about our Clinical Review Process

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Understanding how long psychosis lasts can be crucial for those experiencing it, as well as for their loved ones and caregivers. Psychosis is a complex mental health condition that affects perception, thoughts, and feelings, often making it challenging to navigate daily life.

Below, we will delve into various aspects of psychosis, including its duration and common symptoms. We’ll also explore coping strategies for both during and after a psychotic episode and the role a psychosis therapist plays in healing. 

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Length of different types of psychosis

The duration and severity of psychosis can be affected by factors such as early intervention, treatment adherence, and individual response to medications and therapy. It’s important for people experiencing psychosis to seek professional help for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. To understand psychosis better, here’s an overview of several distinct types, plus an explanation of how long each lasts.

Brief psychotic disorder

The sudden onset of psychotic symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech, define this mental health condition. Symptoms last for at least one day but less than one month, often triggered by a stressful event, and usually resolve independently. 

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia, a chronic mental health condition, includes symptoms that persist for at least six months and often require ongoing treatment. Schizophrenia can vary in intensity, with periods of exacerbation (acute episodes) and periods of remission.

Schizophreniform disorder

Schizophreniform disorder is similar to schizophrenia, but the symptoms last between one to six months. Some people may recover completely, while others may develop schizophrenia.

Schizoaffective disorder

Schizoaffective disorder involves symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder (such as depression or bipolar disorder). The duration can vary, and treatment is often long-term.

Psychotic depression

Like schizoaffective disorder, psychotic depression is a condition wherein psychotic symptoms occur alongside a mood disorder — specifically, major depression. However, psychotic depression differs from schizoaffective disorder because the former doesn’t include concurrent mania, which is one of the primary symptoms of schizophrenia. Treatment for psychotic depression typically focuses on both the depressive disorder and psychosis.

Delusional disorder

Delusional disorder symptoms involve delusions (fixed false beliefs) without other psychotic symptoms. Delusional disorder can vary from a brief episode to chronic, ongoing struggles with fluctuations in intensity.

Drug-induced psychosis

Drug-induced psychosis occurs as a result of substance use (such as hallucinogens or stimulants). Duration can vary depending on the substance and individual factors.

Postpartum psychosis

This rare and severe mental health condition occurs after childbirth and is characterized by psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, severe mood swings, and disorganized thinking. The duration of postpartum psychosis can vary, typically lasting from a few weeks to several months. Prompt medical treatment is essential to reduce the duration and severity of the condition.

What are the symptoms of psychosis?

Psychosis can manifest through various symptoms that affect thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and behavior. According to experts, some common psychosis symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Disorganized or abnormal motor behavior
  • Negative symptoms (i.e., decreased motivation, difficulty talking)
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Social withdrawal

It’s important to note that the specific psychosis symptoms and their severity can vary widely depending on the underlying cause and individual factors. Early recognition and intervention are crucial for effective treatment and management of psychosis.

Coping strategies during and after psychosis

Coping strategies during psychosis

Coping strategies after psychosis

  • Stay calm and safe
  • Seek support from a trusted friend, family, or mental health professional
  • Follow your treatment plan
  • Manage stress using relaxation techniques
  • Maintain your routine as much as possible
  • Reduce exposure to stressful or overwhelming stimuli
  • Educate yourself
  • Consider therapy and support groups
  • Monitor symptoms
  • Build a support network
  • Set realistic goals to maintain motivation
  • Practice self-compassion

During psychosis, people can employ various strategies to manage symptoms and maintain stability. 

  • Stay calm and safe
  • Seek support from a trusted friend, family, or mental health professional
  • Follow your treatment plan
  • Manage stress using relaxation techniques
  • Maintain your routine as much as possible
  • Reduce exposure to stressful or overwhelming stimuli

After psychosis, implementing specific positive coping strategies can support recovery and prevent relapse.

Each person’s experience with psychosis is unique, so it’s essential to tailor coping strategies to personal needs and preferences. Seeking ongoing support from healthcare professionals is crucial for long-term management and well-being.

What does a psychosis therapist do?

A psychosis therapist specializes in diagnosing and treating people experiencing psychosis or psychotic disorders. They begin by conducting thorough assessments to understand the symptoms and causes. Based on this evaluation, they develop personalized psychosis treatment plans that often include therapy, medication management, and crisis intervention. 

Therapy sessions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and family therapy, focus on reducing symptoms, improving coping skills, and supporting recovery. The therapist also educates people and their families about psychosis, psychosis treatment options, and strategies for managing symptoms in daily life. This educational component helps empower people and their support networks to participate actively in recovery.

Collaborating with other healthcare providers ensures comprehensive care that addresses all aspects of the person’s well-being and supports long-term recovery. 

A young man sees a psychosis therapist.

How Charlie Health can help 

If you or a loved one are struggling with psychosis, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health’s virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for young people and families dealing with serious mental health conditions, including psychosis. Our expert clinicians incorporate evidence-based therapies into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic online therapy, managing psychosis is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

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