Causes of psychosis
Psychosis is a condition of the mind that breaks your connection with reality. The two chief symptoms are delusions (strong beliefs that aren't true) and hallucinations (hearing or seeing non-existent things). Hearing voices is a frequent hallucination. Psychosis is often a symptom of a disease like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
If you experience some of the symptoms of psychosis, you're having a psychotic episode. Hallucinations and delusional thinking can be harmful and change your behavior for the worse. Detecting psychosis early and getting treatment will help you go back to normal.
Psychosis often occurs as a result of mental health disorders or other triggers. It can frequently have more than one underlying cause, including the following:
- Genetics: Research shows multiple genes may play a role in psychosis.
- Mental health disorders: Schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, or severe depression may impact psychotic episodes.
- Stress: For vulnerable people, stress can trigger psychosis.
- Drug abuse: Marijuana, amphetamines, and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) cause psychotic episodes in vulnerable individuals.
- Alcohol misuse: Alcohol can be a trigger in some individuals.
- A traumatic incident: Disasters such as war, sexual assault, or the death of a loved one can lead to psychosis.
- Adverse effects from prescription drugs: Substance-induced psychosis can result from prescribed medications.
- Brain disease: People with brain tumors, head injury, stroke, HIV, or dementia can experience psychosis.
Some of these episodes are short-lived, while others may last long-term or repeat, depending on the underlying cause.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder affecting a person's thinking, feeling, and behavior, resulting in an altered view of reality. Psychosis, or losing touch with reality, is a symptom present in schizophrenia.
Violent behavior is not typically a part of schizophrenia. Although the term "split personality" was associated with schizophrenia in the past, schizophrenia is not a Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or split personality. The symptoms of schizophrenia are:
- Wanting to avoid people, including family and friends
- Disorganized thinking, jumbled or irrelevant speech
- Poor personal hygiene
- Lack of interest in everyday activities
- Extreme agitation, meaningless behavior, slowing of movements, and unusual postures
Psychosis involves a disconnection from the real world. The common psychosis symptoms:
Delusions: These are strong beliefs that others do not share and are not real. You may experience paranoia and believe that others are spying on you or that people around you are in a conspiracy against you.
Hallucinations: You may hear, see, feel, taste, or smell things that do not exist. A typical hallucination is hearing voices.
Confused thoughts: Garbled speech and difficulty communicating are frequent.
Self-harm and suicidal tendencies are dangerous symptoms of psychosis. Violent behavior is rarely a part of psychosis, though you may face violence.
Diagnosis of psychosis
If you feel you're having psychotic episodes, you should talk to your doctor urgently. Answer questions honestly to help your doctor to start your treatment rapidly. Early treatment of psychosis is associated with a quicker return to normalcy and reduced likelihood of further episodes.
There are no laboratory tests to diagnose psychosis. Your answers about what you see, feel, and believe will help your doctor detect this disorder. They may also ask about any family history of mental illness, drug use, and recent traumatic events.
Treatment often starts more than a year after the psychotic episodes begin. Delayed treatment reduces the success rates. If you notice these changes in your behavior, it is crucial to seek help quickly.
First episode psychosis
Diagnosing the first episode of psychosis and treating it is very important. You and your family should be able to recognize psychosis. It is vital to seek help from a mental health professional without trying to hide the condition. The appropriate treatment early in this condition can be life-changing for you and make an enormous difference to your future.
Families should be alert to:
- A break from reality with unusual, irrational beliefs
- Suspecting friends and family, or feeling persecuted or spied on
- Hearing, seeing, or smelling things that no one else does
- Sudden carelessness about personal hygiene
- Withdrawal from family and friends. Spending a lot of time alone
- Inability to concentrate or think clearly
These warning signs should alert your family, and you should get help from mental health specialists immediately.
Psychosis treatment options
Your doctor will involve mental health experts to treat the disorder once psychosis is confirmed. Some of the treatment methods include the following:
Some medicines act on the brain and relieve psychosis by blocking dopamine, a message-transmitting chemical in the brain. They are effective but not advised for everyone, especially people with epilepsy and heart disease.
These medicines can reduce anxiety in hours. Delusions and hallucinations may persist for several days or weeks after starting treatment.
These are long-term medications taken after symptoms disappear. Abruptly stopping medicines can cause a return of symptoms. Your physician will decide when to stop treatment and do it gradually.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is a particular type of counseling therapy that helps people with psychosis. It can be one-to-one with the counselor and patient only. Sometimes, family members, partners, and close friends participate. CBT can reduce the need for hospitalization in people with psychosis.
CBT therapists will help you consider ways of understanding your feelings and thoughts. They help reduce your distress and let you feel in control again. CBT can aid you in getting back to normal and restarting your education or work.
Your close family members are vital for your care and support. Your care team will have meetings with your family to discuss your condition. They learn how it can progress, the treatment plan, and how they can support it. They will also learn how to manage psychotic episodes.
If the psychotic episodes are severe, your doctor may decide to admit you to a hospital for treatment.
If you've had psychosis for a long time, you may need help with education, training, and employment.
The treatment of psychosis depends on the cause. If you have another mental health condition, you'll receive help for both.
Overcoming psychosis and going back to normal
Treatment aims to reverse your condition and get you back to a functional life. Treatment is critically important as this condition often occurs at a young age.
Psychosis teams include rehabilitation professionals. The team members vary depending on your individual needs but typically involve a psychiatrist, mental health nurse, occupational health therapist, social worker, dietician, and exercise coach. Your family and friends will also be vital resource persons as you move toward normalcy.
Your team will work with you on a long-term care plan. You can discuss your own goals with them, such as living independently and returning to your job. Treatment is structured to build resilience and coping skills. Your care team will emphasize a rapid return to your work or education setting.
Your involvement in planning your treatment is vital as your needs and goals should form the basis of your treatment plan. It is critical that you remain motivated as you work toward returning to a fully functional life.
National Alliance on Mental Illness: "Psychosis."
National Health Service: "Diagnosis - Psychosis," "Overview - Psychosis," "Overview - Schizophrenia," "Symptoms - Psychosis," "Treatment - Psychosis."
National Institute of Mental Health: "Schizophrenia," "Understanding Psychosis."
World Health Organization: "Schizophrenia."
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