How Long Does Psychosis Last? Stages & Types of Psychotic Episodes (2023)

Psychosis often involves a break from reality and can manifest in many different ways. Learn more about the types and stages of psychosis and how long they last.

Psychosiscan refer to a variety of conditions where a person experiences something that is not happening in reality. They may have a hard time distinguishing between what is happening in their minds and what is real. Psychosis can result in hallucinations, where a person sees, hears, tastes, or feels things that aren’t actually there. It can also present as delusions, where a person strongly believes something to be true despite it going against what is generally accepted or reality. It can also present as disorganized or confused thinking, speech or behaviors.

The psychosis duration and recovery time will depend on how the person experiences psychosis and what induces the psychotic episode. Psychosis can be brought on by mental health issues such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, but it can also be the result of drug use. These variables can all contribute to how long a psychotic episode lasts.

Article at a Glance:

  • Psychosis involves experiencing something that is not really happening and having a difficult time distinguishing what is real.
  • The three stages of psychosis are prodome, acute and recovery.
  • Psychotic disorders can last for a month or less and only occur once, or they can also last for six months or longer.
  • A drug-induced psychosis can result from taking methamphetamine, opiates, alcohol and marijuana.
  • Psychosis that is a one-time event can go away on its own, but many types of psychosis require professional treatment.

The Three Stages of Psychosis

There are threestages of psychosis: prodrome, acute and recovery.

  • Prodrome phase:During the prodromal stage of psychosis, the person will start having changes in behavior or perceptions that might indicate psychosis is about to occur. During the beginning stages of psychosis, the person may have a hard time focusing on what they are doing or thinking, feel easily overwhelmed, have disturbances in their sleep, want to be alone more than usual or seclude themselves from social events.
  • Acute phase:Acute psychosis refers to the stage where hallucinations, delusions, or other unusual behaviors are occurring. These symptoms are usually debilitating and can interfere with a person’s normal life. How long acute psychosis lasts depends on whether the psychosis is related to a mental health disorder or substance-induced.
  • Recovery:The last stage of psychosis is recovery. During this stage, the symptoms of psychosis will lessen and the person will be able to return to a normal routine. This phase usually occurs after the person receives treatment for their mental health disorder or stops using the substance that induced psychosis.

Length of Different Types of Psychosis

The duration of psychosis depends on the type and cause of the psychotic episode. For instance, the duration of psychosis associated with a mental health disorder is different from that of drug-induced psychosis. Additionally, with mental health disorders, the length of time psychosis lasts will vary.

Take for example a brief psychotic disorder vs. schizophrenia. A brief psychotic disorder lasts for one month or less and usually only occurs once, whereasschizophreniais defined by symptoms or its precursors that lasts for a period of six months. Additionally, two or more symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech and extremely disorganized or catatonic behavior, must be significant and last for at least one month. In bipolar disorder, a personmay experience psychosisduring themanic phase, which can have a duration of weeks to months.

How Long Does Drug-Induced Psychosis Last?

Drug-induced psychosisis usually the result of the chronic use of a substance that is harmful to your brain. The psychotic events are usually associated with drug use, either during or immediately after use (during the withdrawal period). In rare cases, psychosis can occur even after the drug is out of a person’s system. How long psychosis lasts varies depending on the specific drug used:

  • Methamphetamine:Meth psychosiscan be short-lived, lasting only a few hours while the person is on the drug, or it can occur throughout withdrawal, which can last as long as a week after taking the drug. If meth use has induced brain damage, psychosis could last beyond when the drug has fully left someone’s system, as long as six months later.
  • Opiates:Opiates can alsoinduce psychosis. Opiate withdrawal psychosis lasts for as long as the drug can be detected in the person. Generally, the psychosis will stop when the drug has completely left the person’s system.
  • Alcohol:Alcohol-induced psychosisis associated with chronic alcohol use and usually lasts for the duration of time that alcohol is present in a person’s system or during the withdrawal process. On very rare occasions, psychosiscan occurlong after the person has stopped alcohol use.
  • Marijuana:Marijuana has been linked with psychotic events and has been associated with anincreased risk of developing schizophrenia. Though more needs to be learned about this association, it is possible thatpsychosis from marijuanause can persist in the long term, even after the drug is no longer used.

A substance use disorder can alsoco-occurin someone who has a psychotic disorder. In most cases, substance use will make the psychotic disorder worse and a person may experience more severe symptoms of psychosis while under the influence of various substances.

Related Topic:How long does depression last?

(Video) How psychosis bends your reality - BBC

Can Psychosis Go Away on Its Own?

If the psychosis is a one-time event, such as with brief psychotic disorder, or substance-induced psychotic break, it may go away on its own. However, if the psychosis is a result of an underlying mental health disorder, it is unlikely the psychosis will go away naturally.Studieshave found that shortening the time between the first psychotic episode and when a personreceives treatmentcan help improve their overall success with treatment. The length of time for psychosis to go away following the start of treatment can also be shortened by seeking treatment early after symptoms start to occur.

When to Seek Help

When a person experiences psychosis for the first time, it may be difficult to know if they should seek help or not. However, it has been shown thatpsychosis treatmentgreatly improves thesooner someone gets help. Therefore, if a person experiences psychosis that is not related to substance use, it would be beneficial for them to establish care with a trusted provider so that they can monitor their symptoms and get immediate treatment if they progress.

For individuals that experiencepsychosis with substance use, it is generally a sign of a substance use disorder as this will usually only occur with chronic substance use. In many cases, getting treatment for their substance use disorder and stopping the use of the substance will improve their symptoms of psychosis.

Related Topic:

Check out the Nobu app to learn more about psychosis symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment, and connect with mental health professionals that can help. It is free and for anyone that is looking to reduce anxiety, work through depression, build self-esteem, get aftercare following treatment, attend teletherapy sessions and so much more. Download theNobu apptoday!

How Long Does Psychosis Last? Stages & Types of Psychotic Episodes (1)

Editor – Rob Alston

(Video) The 3 Traits of Psychosis [& What They Feel Like]

Rob Alston has traveled around Australia, Japan, Europe, and America as a writer and editor for industries including personal wellness and recovery. Read more

How Long Does Psychosis Last? Stages & Types of Psychotic Episodes (2)

Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Trisha Sippel, PhD

Dr. Sippel is a diversely trained scientist with expertise in cancer biology and immunology. Read more

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Yale School of Medicine. “Phases of Psychosis.” Accessed September 13, 2019.

Tondo, Leonardo; Vázquez, Gustavo H.; Baldessarinia, Ross J. “Depression and Mania in Bipolar Disorder.” Current Neuropharmacology, April, 2017. Accessed September 13, 2019.

Bhat, Pookala S.; Ryali, VSSR; Srivastava, Kalpana; Kumar, Shashi R.; Prakash, Jyoti; Singal, Ankit. “Alcoholic hallucinosis.” Industrial Psychiatry Journal, December 2012. Accessed September 13, 2019.

Hamilton, Ian; Monaghan, Mark. “Cannabis and Psychosis: Are We any Close[…]ng the Relationship?” Current Psychiatry Reports, June 4, 2019. Accessed September 13, 2019.

Breitborde, Nicholas J.K.; Moe, Aubrey M.; Ered, Arielle; Ellman, Lauren; Bell, Emily K. “Optimizing psychosocial interventions in[…]nd future directions.” Psychology Research and Behavior Management, April 27, 2017. Accessed September 13, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.


How long does psychotic psychosis last? ›

Your experience of psychosis will usually develop gradually over a period of 2 weeks or less. You are likely to fully recover within a few months, weeks or days.

What is the length of a psychotic episode? ›

The majority of drug-induced psychotic episodes last from a few hours to a couple of days, though there are occasional reports of one dragging on for weeks or months. As the saying goes, a lot can happen (even) in an hour: but exactly what happens frequently relates to the amount of time it has to happen in.

How long do early stages of psychosis last? ›

This initial stage of psychosis, which is marked by gradual changes in a person's thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, can last for several months to a year or longer. During the prodromal phase, a person may find it difficult to focus, understand what others are saying, or keep track of their own thoughts.

What are the 3 types of psychosis? ›

What types of psychosis are there?
  • hallucinations.
  • delusions.
  • disorganised thinking and speech.

Can a psychotic episode be permanent? ›

Psychosis may not be permanent. However, if someone isn't treated for psychosis, they could be at greater risk for developing schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder. Schizophrenia is rare, but people who have it are at increased risk for premature death and suicide.

What can trigger a psychotic break? ›

Psychosis can also be triggered by traumatic experiences, stress, or physical conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, a brain tumour, or as a result of drug misuse or alcohol misuse. How often a psychotic episode occurs and how long it lasts can depend on the underlying cause.

How long does it take to get back to normal after psychosis? ›

Recovery from the first episode usually takes a number of months. If symptoms remain or return, the recovery process may be prolonged. Some people experience a difficult period lasting months or even years before effective management of further episodes of psychosis is achieved.

How do you get someone out of psychosis? ›

listen to the way that the person explains and understands their experiences. not state any judgements about the content of the person's beliefs and experiences. not argue, confront or challenge someone about their beliefs or experiences. accept if they don't want to talk to you, but be available if they change their ...

What does a psychotic episode do to the brain? ›

Psychosis is a condition that affects the way your brain processes information. It causes you to lose touch with reality. You might see, hear, or believe things that aren't real. Psychosis is a symptom, not an illness.

What is the last stage of psychosis? ›

Recovery: The last stage of psychosis is recovery. During this stage, the symptoms of psychosis will lessen and the person will be able to return to a normal routine. This phase usually occurs after the person receives treatment for their mental health disorder or stops using the substance that induced psychosis.

How can you tell if someone has a psychotic episode? ›

But in general, 3 main symptoms are associated with a psychotic episode: hallucinations.
Signs of this include:
  1. rapid and constant speech.
  2. disturbed speech – for example, they may switch from one topic to another mid-sentence.
  3. a sudden loss in their train of thought, resulting in an abrupt pause in conversation or activity.

What is the best medication for psychosis? ›

Antipsychotics. 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.

Which disorder is very serious psychosis? ›

Schizophrenia is one type of psychotic disorder. People with bipolar disorder may also have psychotic symptoms. Other problems that can cause psychosis include alcohol and some drugs, brain tumors, brain infections, and stroke.

What is the most common mental illness causing psychosis? ›

The following conditions have been known to trigger psychotic episodes in some people: schizophrenia – a mental health condition that causes hallucinations and delusions. bipolar disorder – a person with bipolar disorder can have episodes of low mood (depression) and highs or elated mood (mania) severe stress or ...

What is the most severe psychotic disorder? ›

The most common psychotic disorder is schizophrenia. Patients with this condition experience changes in behavior, delusions and hallucinations that last longer than six months.

Will I ever be the same after psychosis? ›

In fact, many medical experts today believe there is potential for all individuals to recover from psychosis, to some extent. Experiencing psychosis may feel like a nightmare, but being told your life is over after having your first episode is just as scary.

What happens if psychosis doesnt go away? ›

Psychosis can be very serious, regardless of what is causing the symptoms. The best outcomes result from immediate treatment, and when not treated psychosis can lead to illness, injuries, legal and financial difficulties, and even death.

Does your personality change after psychosis? ›

While psychosis looks different from person to person, it always causes changes in your abilities and personality.

Does psychosis get worse over time? ›

Symptoms of psychosis like these most often start in people between the ages of 14 and 30. The hallucinations and delusions may be subtle at first but can worsen over time. At first, a person may be able to tell that the distorted perceptions aren't real.

Can someone with psychosis go back to normal? ›

An episode of psychosis is treatable, and it is possible to recover. It is widely accepted that the earlier people get help the better the outcome. 25% of people who develop psychosis will never have another episode, another 50% may have more than one episode but will be able to live normal lives.

What does a psychotic episode look like? ›

Confused and disturbed thoughts

rapid and constant speech. disturbed speech – for example, they may switch from one topic to another mid-sentence. a sudden loss in their train of thought, resulting in an abrupt pause in conversation or activity.

What does a psychotic breakdown look like? ›

Typically, a psychotic break indicates the first onset of psychotic symptoms for a person or the sudden onset of psychotic symptoms after a period of remission. Symptoms may include delusional thoughts and beliefs, auditory and visual hallucinations, and paranoia.

What are the stages of coming out of psychosis? ›

The typical course of a psychotic episode can be thought of as having three phases: Prodrome Phase, Acute Phase, and Recovery Phase.

How do you beat psychosis? ›

understand what triggers your psychosis or makes it worse.
For example, it can help to:
  1. Try to get enough sleep. Sleep can help give you the energy to cope with difficult feelings and experiences. ...
  2. Think about your diet. ...
  3. Try to do some physical activity. ...
  4. Spend time outside. ...
  5. Avoid drugs and alcohol.

Does your brain change after psychosis? ›

Previous studies have shown that grey matter volume and thickness rapidly decline in the first two years following the transition to psychosis, before then plateauing. These findings suggest the onset of psychosis is a dynamic event in the neurobiology of the brain, resulting in changes to grey matter.

What causes permanent psychosis? ›

Psychosis can be caused by a mental (psychological) condition, a general medical condition, or alcohol or drug misuse.


1. Five phases of psychosis
2. Treating First Episode Psychosis - John Kane, M.D.
(National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH))
3. Interacting with Someone in Psychosis | Advice Series
(Living Well with Schizophrenia)
4. Making sense of psychosis (early intervention)
(Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust)
5. The 5 psychotic symptoms linked to schizophrenia #shorts
(Dr. Tracey Marks)
6. What are Depression and Bipolar with Psychotic Features?
(Living Well with Schizophrenia)
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