Woman experiencing the symptoms of bipolar disorder psychosis

What is Bipolar Disorder Psychosis?

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Bipolar disorder is a complex mental illness that is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, confidence, attitude, and energy. Some people who have this disorder also develop bipolar psychosis, a condition that can make it difficult for them to perceive their environment and interact with others.

What is Bipolar Psychosis?

As established in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the clinical criteria for bipolar disorder include mania, hypomania, and depression. For many people who have bipolar disorder, these “standard” symptoms are accompanied by periods of psychosis.

Psychosis, which is also associated with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and other mental illnesses, can involve five types of symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disordered speech
  • Grossly disordered behaviors
  • Negative symptoms

People who have bipolar disorder psychosis usually experience the first two symptoms in this list (hallucinations and delusions).

Bipolar disorder psychosis isn’t discussed as often as other mania, hypomania, and depression – but it is far from uncommon.

According to a September 2022 article in World Journal of Psychiatry, about half of all people who have any type of bipolar disorder experience bipolar psychosis. Among those who have bipolar I disorder (which involves manic episodes), about two-thirds also have bipolar psychosis.


Experts have not identified a single, universal cause for either bipolar disorder or bipolar psychosis. However, they have determined that the following factors can increase a person’s risk for these mental health concerns:

  • Having a parent or sibling with bipolar disorder
  • Exposure to certain infections in utero
  • Abuse, neglect, or other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
  • Loss of a parent during childhood
  • Overwhelming stress
  • Substance abuse
  • Prior struggles with other mental illnesses

Signs & Symptoms

As we noted earlier, bipolar disorder psychosis typically involves hallucinations and/or delusions. These symptoms can occur at any time, but they are much more likely to happen when the individual is in the midst of a manic episode. 

The following are examples of common signs and symptoms of bipolar psychosis:

  • Auditory hallucinations: Hearing voices or other sounds that no one else can hear
  • Visual hallucinations: Seeing objects, people, or light patterns that don’t actually exist
  • Referential delusions: Believing that they are being observed and discussed by others, and/or that they are being sent coded messages through everyday events or conversations
  • Persecutory delusions: Believing that they are being spied upon by someone who is attempting to harm them or their loved ones
  • Grandiose delusions: Believing that they have magical powers or special abilities, or that they have been given a secret mission to complete

The type of bipolar disorder psychosis symptoms can vary from one person to another. For example, some people may only have delusions, while others may only experience hallucinations. 

Understandably, any of these symptoms can be sources of considerable distress, both for the person who is directly impacted by them and for their loved ones.


Bipolar psychosis can expose a person to substantial harm, such as:

  • Being bullied, harassed, or otherwise victimized
  • Unintentionally injuring themselves or someone else
  • Medical problems due to poor self-care
  • Diminished ability to get and keep a job
  • Inability to establish financial independence
  • Acting in a manner that causes them to be arrested and jailed
  • Social withdrawal or ostracization
  • Increased resistance to treatment
  • Impaired progress if already in treatment

People at treatment for bipolar disorder psychosisCan Bipolar Disorder Psychosis be Treated?

There is one good piece of news about bipolar disorder psychosis: It is treatable.

When a person receives appropriate professional care, they can experience relief from (or learn to manage) the symptoms of bipolar disorder, including bipolar psychosis.

Medication is typically a key element of treatment for people who have been experiencing bipolar psychosis. Antipsychotics such as Risperdal (risperidone), Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate), and Abilify (aripiprazole) are often prescribed to people who have been having psychotic episodes related to bipolar disorder.

Therapy is also extremely important for people with bipolar psychosis. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has proved to be particularly effective. During CBT sessions, patients can learn how to identify self-defeating thought and behavior patterns, and then replace them with healthier ways of thinking and acting.

As reported in a September 2022 study in the journal Cureus, research has linked CBT with the following positive outcomes among people who have been impacted by psychosis:

  • Reduced depression and improved self-esteem among people with persecutory delusions
  • Fewer involuntary hospitalizations
  • Greater willingness to be voluntarily hospitalized
  • Improved mood and cognition
  • Better sleep quality

Benefits of Going to Treatment for Bipolar Disorder and Psychosis?

The primary benefit of getting treatment for bipolar disorder and psychosis is having the opportunity to achieve improved health and better overall quality of life. While working toward these goals, individuals who are enrolled in a treatment program can also reap the following benefits:

  • Safety: Bipolar psychosis can increase a person’s risk for myriad negative outcomes. When a person is in a reputable treatment facility, they will be under the care of a team of dedicated professionals who can ensure their safety.
  • Compassion: A sad truth about modern life is that individuals with mental illnesses are often ridiculed, scorned, and mistreated. In addition to being a safe space, an effective treatment environment will also be a place of compassion, dignity, and respect.
  • Personalized care: Bipolar disorder and psychosis can impact people in myriad ways. It is important to find a treatment center that will assess the full scope of each person’s needs, then develop a truly personalized plan, just for them.
  • Meaningful connections: During treatment, people who have bipolar disorder and psychosis can connect with others who have had similar challenges. This can eliminate feelings of isolation. It can also demonstrate to people who are receiving care that they can be valuable sources of support for others. 
  • Family support: If a treatment center doesn’t offer on-site family support services, they should be able to connect loved ones with appropriate community-based programming. 

Contact Our Bipolar Psychosis Treatment Facility in Los Angeles, CA

Montare Behavioral Health provides comprehensive mental health service for adults at several convenient locations in the Los Angeles, California, area. Our bipolar psychosis treatment center offers inpatient and outpatient options, as well as specialized programming for women, young adults, and college students. To learn more about how we can help you or your loved one, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact Us page or call us today.