Severe depression (including postpartum) and bipolar illness in adults and children can be accompanied by psychosis. Psychosis is the loss of being grounded in reality. A person can experience hallucinations or delusions or both.

Hallucinations are seeing, hearing, and/or feeling (as in being touched) things that are not really present. Some religious “visions” and “locutions” are actually a manifestation of psychosis. This is one reason why the Church insists on studying these reported experiences with utmost scrutiny and does not rely on them to determine a person’s sanctity.

Delusions are very strong beliefs that are not based in reality. An extreme example is a belief that, “someone is planning to poison me.” Religious delusions may include but are certainly not limited to believing one has profound spiritual insights about people or is a “mystic” just like St. Catherine of Siena.

A person experiencing psychosis may refuse to seek treatment or cooperate with treatment suggestions because the hallucinations or delusions are experienced with the certainty of reality even though they are not based in reality.


It is also important to note that psychosis can occur as a sudden bad reaction to medication.


Warning Signs of Possible Psychosis


  • Depression or bipolar symptoms seem to be worsening
  • Increased restlessness, intense feelings of fear, or the presence of compulsively anxious habits such has pulling out ones hair or biting ones nails until they bleed
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Hard to understand or disorganized speech
  • Compulsive writing or drawing in an attempt to clarify ones thoughts
  • Increased suspiciousness or sudden hostility; hoarding objects; strange posturing
  • Worsening of personal hygiene
  • Experiencing increasingly disturbing and unusual thoughts that won’t go away
  • Change in dress: wearing more bizarre clothes or gaudy make-up
  • Emotional expressions are becoming “robot-like” or simply strange
  • Inappropriate or odd laughter
  • Sensitivity to noise, light, colors or textures, or being touched by others
  • Speech that contains irrational or odd statements; excessive writing that is meaningless
  • Cutting or mutilating ones self
  • Extreme preoccupation with religious phenomena, religious figures, or the occult
  • Believing ones self to be possessed by the devil, demons, or some evil force



Psychosis is treatable. If you or someone you love has some of these symptoms, PLEASE see your primary care physician and be honest about the symptoms!