Psychosis occurs when an individual has a break from reality. There are many misperceptions about what it is and is not, as it is often poorly portrayed in movies and TV shows as someone who has gone “insane” and is very dangerous.

In fact, people with psychosis are more at risk to be injured by someone than they are to harm others.

One of the difficult aspects of psychosis for traditionally aged college students is that the age of onset is often 18-25. This means that many students who experience psychotic symptoms may be experiencing them for the first time while they are in school, sometimes away from home and their social support.

Luckily, simply having psychosis does not guarantee that a person will no longer be able to function as a college student.

We have met with and assisted many students at the counseling center that presented with psychotic symptoms. Many of these folks were able to maintain being a student by a combination of medication and/or ongoing treatment.

It is very important to seek guidance from a professional to help make a diagnosis and decide if treatment might be helpful, as it can be a confusing process. This is where we at Counseling & Psychological Services can be a great resource, as we can help students learn about the most optimal treatment options either on campus or off campus. To schedule a phone consultation with us to learn more, give us a call at (619) 594-5220. 


Here is a list of some common symptoms of psychosis. Please note that this list is not comprehensive. 

  • Auditory hallucinations – Hearing voices or sounds that are not present
  • Olfactory hallucinations – Detecting a smell that is not present
  • Tactile hallucinations – Feeling as if someone or something is touching you when nothing is
  • Visual hallucinations – Seeing people or things that are not really there

Fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change despite conflicting evidence

  • Bizarre delusions – Something that is not based on reality (e.g. believing a newscaster is secretly communicating with them during broadcasts).
  • Non-bizarre delusions – Plausible situations (e.g. believing that you are being followed by the FBI).
  • Rapid and frequent speech
  • Content of speech difficult to follow due to inconsistent focus or switching from one topic to another for no coherent reason
  • Sudden stopping of speaking midsentence or rapidly appearing to lose 'train of thought'

There are a variety of strategies for coping with psychosis. However, due to the varied nature of psychotic symptoms, we recommend reviewing our general self care strategies and skills section or working with your treatment provider to determine which strategies are best for you. 

If you have additional questions, please give us a call.