How Do You Deal With a Psychotic Person?

Medically Reviewed on 3/30/2022
How Do You Deal With a Psychotic Person?
Learn sixteen tips for dealing with a psychotic person or those experiencing an episode of acute psychosis.

A person with psychosis due to any reason (organic or mental illness) is a danger to themself and others around them. Their thought and emotion processing are so impaired that they are not oriented to reality and suffer from hallucinations and delusional thoughts.

Here are 16 tips to deal with a person who experiences acute psychosis:

  1. Stay calm. Any hostile, disciplinary, or challenging action on your part will aggravate the situation.
  2. Never threaten the person. Increased fear may prompt aggressive behavior in the person.
  3. Speak in short, clear statements. Avoid raising your voice.
  4. Stay calm and avoid fidgeting, for example, shuffling your feet or abrupt movements.
  5. Seek help. If possible, call another person for help. Confide in the person that you are calling for someone who will make them feel better and safer. Ask the helper to clear the room of any potentially dangerous object (if possible).
  6. If the affected person asks you questions, answer and attempt to comply with their reasonable requests. This gives the affected person the chance at feeling in control.
  7. Ask them questions such as “I understand, but can you do me a favor?” “What can I do to help?” This shows empathy, something they might understand and expect.
  8. Let only one person speak. Ask only one question at a time. Give them time to respond.
  9. Do not restrict their movement or try to surround them. If they are sitting, do not stand and hover over them.
  10. Try to remain at the same eye level as them.
  11.  If there are multiple people in the room, do not speak about them as if they are not there.
  12. Make sure that you have access to an exit. Your safety is a priority.
  13. Be prepared to call for assistance—another caregiver, doctor, or even police if the situation is unsafe.
  14. If crisis staff arrive, explain to the person you are helping who they are and how they are going to help.
  15. Take any threats or warnings seriously. The person can grievously harm their self and others.
  16.  If the person’s aggression escalates out of control at any time, remove yourself from the situation and call 211 or 911 for help.

What are warning signs of a psychotic attack?

Psychosis is a symptom of psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse) and other diseases and conditions (meningitis, drug overdose, parkinsonism, malaria, head injury, and Alzheimer’s disease).

If you or your loved one has a mental health disorder, you must be on the lookout for symptoms of impending psychosis, which include:

  • Changes in mood: A sudden onset of anxiety, mood swings, depression, or loss of emotions (flat affect)
  • Cognitive changes: Difficulties with concentration or attention, feeling that self or others have changed or are acting differently and unusual perceptual experiences (perceiving a color too bright, strong smells, or unusual tastes)
  • Appetite changes: A change in appetite, feeling weak, and reduced energy
  • Changes in behavior: Social isolation or withdrawal, reduced ability to carry out work, and lack of motivation


What's Schizophrenia? Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment See Slideshow

How do you help a person with psychosis who refuses help?

Psychosis is a medical emergency. If you find that the situation is out of hand, call 911, a family physician, or emergency services.

In very serious episodes, the doctor may advise an involuntary commitment to a hospital with psychiatric facilities.

  • If your near and dear one displays suicidal tendencies, refuses intake of food or water, tries to injure others or self, and refuses to seek care, you may petition the local magistrate for psychiatric evaluation.
  • An affidavit must be filed in the magistrate’s office, and if the magistrate determines there are reasonable grounds for psychiatric evaluation, a custody order is issued.
  • A law enforcement officer will transport the person to a mental health center or hospital for examination.
  • Depending on the recommendation by the examining psychiatrist, an involuntary psychiatric commitment may be ordered.
  • A court hearing will follow, and the judge will decide if the person needs outpatient management or inpatient treatment in a psychiatric facility.

In most people, compliance with medications, psychotherapy, and involvement of family play an important role in symptom relief. Wherever needed, the psychiatrist may treat for substance abuse or other associated disorder.

In resistant cases, electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, deep brain stimulation, and vagus nerve stimulation may provide relief from psychosis symptoms. With correct treatment, they may not suffer any further psychosis episodes and have a fruitful social life.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/30/2022
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