PTSD psychosis (A complete guide)


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Page last updated: 23/09/2022

PTSD psychosis

In this brief blog, we will be discussing PTSD psychosis, PTSD with psychosis symptoms,  PTSD and psychosis, and more information about PTSD psychosis.

The association between PTSD and psychosis

An episode of psychosis can make the affected person be in great conflict since he or she will not make sense of his or her environment and this only worsens when it is paired with PTSD.

This kind of trauma disorder will also arise from the ongoing discrimination towards the effects of traumatic events. 

There is some agreement that psychosis may arise from the effect of a traumatic event and can be a symptom of PTSD.

Cases have shown that people with schizophrenia have suffered from PTSD symptoms due to the traumatic event that occurred in their lives. 

At the moment of psychological screening, people with schizophrenia as a disorder of psychosis have been found to have comorbid PTSD.

This shows that people with this kind of comorbidity signals the high-stress levels that came from repetitive traumatic events. 

For people with PTSD and psychosis, psychological interventions that are relevant to long-term treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) to minimize stress levels that heighten these comorbid psychological disorders.

These kinds of patients are also helping themselves when they learn more effective ways of socializing.

Forms of psychosis symptoms

Psychotic symptoms can be classified into two classes which are positive symptoms and negative symptoms.

These kinds of symptoms are not relevant to the fact that some symptoms are good or bad. 

It is more of the fact that positive psychotic symptoms are the addition of an experience like hallucinations while negative symptoms are the lack of experiences.

Positive Psychosis Symptoms

Positive psychosis symptoms are those symptoms that are added in behaviours, thoughts, and emotions that can cause dysfunction in one’s life.

The most common of these symptoms are hallucinations and delusions.

  • Hallucinations are perceptions and sensations of something that isn’t really there. An auditory hallucination is an experience of hearing voices that aren’t physically present. A visual hallucination would include seeing something that isn’t truly there. Tactile hallucinations happen when you feel something that isn’t physically present. Olfactory and gustatory hallucinations include the experience of smelling or tasting something that isn’t actually sensed by most people.
  • Delusions are ideas and beliefs that you assume are true despite the fact that they may be improbable or eccentric. For instance, you might strongly believe that the CIA is watching you or that aliens are managing your behaviours or thoughts.
  • Disorganized behaviours are also very typical with psychosis. You may, for instance, make up words, stand in an odd pose or talk in misunderstanding ways.

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PTSD psychosis (A complete guide)

Negative Psychosis Symptoms

Negative psychosis symptoms are the non-existence of normal experiences.

For instance, you may be lacking in emotional expressions if you have these symptoms of psychosis. 

You may have a hard time trying to talk to someone or you might not have the interest in doing activities that are vital for your health such as hygiene.

You might not be interested in social relationships and may become aloof. 

Psychologists and psychiatrists call psychotic people’s lack of emotional expressions as flat affect which is the medical term of this behaviour.

Flashbacks and Dissociative episodes

Flashbacks and dissociative episodes are typical symptoms of PTSD but they share some usual features with some psychosis symptoms such as the following:

  • In a flashback, you may lose association in the short-term with your present circumstance and be brought back in time to a traumatic event in your memory. In a chronic flashback, you may see, hear, or smell stuff that other people don’t which is related to a hallucination. Flashbacks typically happen during periods of high stress and can be very terrifying to the person experiencing them.
  • Dissociation is an experience of a state in which you feel disassociated from your body. You may not have any memory of what’s occurring in your environment for a certain amount of time. The experience is the same as a daydream, but unlike a common daydream, it’s very intrusive to your life.

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Other psychological disorders that can be comorbid with psychosis symptoms

These different symptoms of psychosis can also occur in other psychological disorders as reported and these kinds of psychological disorders are the following:

  • PTSD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Major depressive disorder with psychotic features or characteristics
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Schizophreniform disorder
  • Delusional disorder

This is why the differential diagnosis between these mentioned psychological disorders and other comorbid disorders can be very difficult for mental health professionals.

Schizophrenia as a psychosis disorder and PTSD

Schizophrenia is one of the most typical psychosis disorder to be diagnosed in affected people which makes it more likely there are people who have PTSD and schizophrenia.

As you may know, this kind of trauma disorder is usually an effect of traumatic events and some people with schizophrenia have been reported to have experienced traumatic events before their psychological disorder. 

Research has also found that there is also a genetic background for people with PTSD and schizophrenia.

The appearance of this comorbidity makes it very crucial to seek treatment immediately but mental health professionals are reluctant in doing the common medical treatments for these kinds of disorders. 

For instance, exposure therapy to cure PTSD may not be effective enough if the affected person is diagnosed with schizophrenia as well.

This is why research has been finding discoveries that a manageable treatment plan can help those people with these kinds of disorders. 

If you are an affected person with PTSD and schizophrenia, you should find a mental health professional who specializes in treating these comorbid disorders to have more effective care.

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Psychosis symptoms in PTSD

Studies have found that people with PTSD may have various psychotic symptoms present.

Positive psychosis symptoms are the more prominent features in this kind of trauma disorder. 

Cases have shown that almost half of those people with PTSD will experience positive psychosis symptoms once in their lifetimes.

Most Typical Psychosis Symptoms in PTSD

The most typical psychosis symptoms in affected people with PTSD are the following:

  • Believing that other people were watching or stalking them 
  • Seeing something that others couldn’t physically see 
  • Having uncommon feelings inside or outside of their bodies like feeling as though they were being touched when no one was really physically there 
  • Believing that they could hear what someone else was currently thinking 
  • Being annoyed by strange smells that no one else could physically smell 
  • Believing that their behaviours and thoughts were being managed by some power or force 

The study also indicated that the more severe your PTSD symptoms are, the more likely you will have positive psychosis symptoms.

You will also get these symptoms if you have experienced a traumatic event that has chronically affected you. 

The traumatic events that can cause positive psychosis symptoms in people with PTSD are those who have experienced a loss of a loved one, being a witness to a murder or abuse, and being survivors of natural disasters.

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Trauma being the cause of PTSD and psychosis

Studies on trauma focus on the trauma victim’s take on the traumatic event that has caused distress in his or her life.

These kinds of events are not easily interpreted by researchers since this event is more meaningful to the affected person. 

Due to these cases, researchers were able to find an association between trauma and psychosis.

The effects of the traumatic event can cause the person to manifest psychotic symptoms that will deteriorate one’s look on reality.

There is an association between trauma and psychosis but the problem remains on what may be the workings behind this kind of association.

Some have made explanatory models that can help reach a hypothesis about this kind of association. 

A researcher was focusing his model on the auditory hallucinations in the person with psychotic symptoms.

These kinds of symptoms may arise due to the dissociative mechanisms the person may have used in the midst of a traumatic event. 

Another psychologist has used the model in which emotion regulation and autobiographical memory may be involved in the creation of both PTSD and psychosis.

The minimal use of emotional regulation may explain the overriding reactions to the traumatic event which can turn into psychotic symptoms such as disorganized behaviour. 

This kind of model is emphasizing the causal paradigm between traumatic events and psychotic symptoms.

Researchers have used the following mechanisms that may be involved such as memory processing, dissociation, negative posttraumatic beliefs, and posttraumatic avoidance with connected interventions in reality or as the child grows up. 

This kind of paradigm has led to the four subtypes of psychotic disorders.

This kind of paradigm has also been used to understand more about psychosis as a syndrome where it should be considered as a continuum. 

This kind of model has also explained how traumatic events can make people having more potential for developing PTSD with psychosis.

Researchers have been using people who are having the early episodes of psychosis to investigate these mechanisms in the midst of their trauma disorder. 

The population of those with PTSD and psychosis have been reported to have suffered through childhood abuse and other forms of traumatic events which have made mental health professionals update assessments and treatments for these affected people.

The unfortunate part of this is that people with these psychological disorders are not detected to have traumatic events which make it untreated. 

This kind of under-detection can be minimized through regular screening of people with PTSD and psychosis.

Also, there is a need to minimize the occurrence of traumatic events by helping the affected patient. 

In this case, assessment should be re-evaluated in the detection of trauma. Professionals will also need to help elicit the client to open up about these kinds of issues to minimize their symptoms of PTSD and psychosis

The literature on the recovery process of people with PTSD and psychosis should be able to be elaborated.

Also, there is a need to practice self-efficacy in these kinds of people to minimize the re-occurrence of traumatic events.

Psychological interventions for people with PTSD and psychosis

Unfortunately, psychological interventions for people with PTSD and psychosis aren’t clearly defined, unlike dealing with both psychological disorders separately with CBT for psychosis and EMDR therapy for PTSD.

Although there are some current advancements in this needed treatment. 

Studies have made an analysis of what can be a suitable psychological intervention for people with PTSD and psychosis.

Some researchers have suggested that people with these comorbid disorders should take the Trauma-Based CBT which has shown some efficiency. 

Unfortunately, there is still a need to modify this kind of psychological intervention to address people with PTSD and psychosis.

After all, there are those people who are suffering from early psychosis and those who are suffering from other psychological disorders that are comorbid with PTSD.

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In this brief blog, we have discussed PTSD psychosis, PTSD with psychosis symptoms,  PTSD and psychosis, and more information about PTSD psychosis.

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If you have any questions about PTSD psychosis, please let us know and the team will gladly answer your queries.

FAQs: ptsd psychosis

Can PTSD turn into schizophrenia?

No, PTSD cannot turn into schizophrenia but it can be associated with this kind of psychotic disorder.

People with these psychological disorders together are more likely to have negative symptoms of schizophrenia such as showing disinterest in activities that were once enjoyable and not paying mind to one’s hygiene.

What is acute psychosis?

Acute psychosis is a short-term form of a psychotic episode.

This is when the structure of reality becomes dysfunctional as manifested by the psychotic symptoms like delusions, disorganized behaviours, and hallucinations.

Can you hear voices with PTSD?

Yes, you can hear voices while undergoing PTSD. This is a rare encounter for most patients with this kind of psychological disorder.

Individuals who experience auditory hallucinations may experience tinnitus which is a persistent ringing in one’s ears or they may hear a voice or group of voices that are not physically existing.

Does PTSD mean your crazy?

Yes, PTSD means you’re crazy or on the edge of insanity.

Recently, the symptoms of this trauma disorder can be very intrusive. You may feel persistently on edge or as if danger is lingering around every corner.

You may feel detached from people and your own feelings.

You may have complications in concentrating or discover that you get angry at the drop of a hat.

How dangerous is someone with PTSD?

Someone with PTSD is considered dangerous due to their constant hypervigilance and arousal to stimuli that remind them of the traumatic event.

These kinds of symptoms can make the affected person to hurt others or even go to situations where he or she might get hurt. 


Frontiers in Psychiatry. Editorial: Trauma, Psychosis and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

NCBI. Psychotic symptoms in posttraumatic stress disorder.

Verywellmind. The Relationship Between PTSD and Psychosis.