1 in 20 Report Psychotic Symptoms

Psychosis is generally thought of as an all-or-nothing phenomenon – you either have it or you don’t. However, there is increasing evidence that psychosis exists in the population as a continuum rather than a categorical diagnosis. Most people who report one or more psychotic symptoms are not clinically mentally ill.

Factors associated with psychotic symptoms were drug and alcohol dependence, victimisation, recent stressful life events, lower intellectual ability and neurotic symptoms. In terms of drug dependence, the relationship between cannabis dependence and psychotic symptoms was the strongest.

This study, published in the October issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, used information from the second British National Survey of Psychiatric Morbidity, carried out in 2000. A total of 8580 people aged 16-74 were interviewed. Those who scored positive for one or more psychotic symptoms had a second interview with a clinician. Only one in 250 adults were found by the clinician to be mentally ill with a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia or manic depressive psychosis. 5.1 per cent of those questioned had experienced one or more of the psychotic symptoms measured.

For more information, visit The Royal College of Psychiatrists website.