Psychosis: Signs, Types, Risks, Treatment
Synopsis: Information regarding psychosis, a serious mental disorder characterized by emotions and thinking that has lost contact with reality.1
Author: Thomas C. Weiss Contact: Disabled World (www.disabled-world.com)
Published: 2015-02-19 Updated: 2021-01-17
People who are psychotic have false thoughts or, 'delusions,' or might hear or see things that are not there or, 'hallucinations.'
People who are in the early stage of psychosis have trouble with concentrating, a depressed mood, changes in their sleep patterns and anxiety.
Psychosis is broadly defined as an abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality". People with psychosis are described as psychotic. People experiencing psychosis may exhibit some personality changes and thought disorder. Depending on its severity, this may be accompanied by unusual or bizarre behavior, as well as difficulty with social interaction and impairment in carrying out daily life activities.
Psychosis is a serious mental disorder that is characterized by emotions and thinking that have become so impaired they indicate the person who is experiencing them has lost contact with reality. People who are psychotic have false thoughts or, 'delusions,' or might hear or see things that are not there or, 'hallucinations.' Delusions and hallucinations are referred to as, 'positive,' symptoms while, 'negative,' symptoms such as loss of motivation and social withdrawal might happen as well.
The experience of delusions, hallucinations, loss of motivation and social withdrawal may be frightening and might cause people who experience psychosis to harm themselves or other people. It is important to contact a doctor promptly if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of psychosis. Psychosis affects three out of every one-hundred people. It is most likely to be diagnosed in young adults, although psychosis may affect anyone - from politicians to a person who is a citizen, despite other means of social identification.
Signs of Psychosis
The signs of psychosis include both early stage and later stage psychosis. People who are in the early stage of psychosis have trouble with concentrating, a depressed mood, changes in their sleep patterns and anxiety. They also experience suspiciousness, ongoing unusual beliefs or thoughts, as well as withdrawal from family members and friends. The later stage of psychosis may find a person experiencing:
- Disorganized speech
- Trouble with functioning
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Understanding Delusions and Hallucinations
A, 'delusion,' is a false impression or belief that a person holds despite being contradicted by reality and what others hold to be commonly true. There are delusions of grandiose, paranoid and somatic forms. People who experience a paranoid delusion may think they are being followed; for example, when they are in reality not. They may believe that secret messages are being sent only to them through sources such as the media. A person with a grandiose delusion has an exaggerated sense of their own importance. Somatic delusions are the belief that you have a terminal illness; for example - even though you are in fact healthy.
Hallucinations are different from delusions in that hallucinations involve sensory perception in the absence of outside stimuli. What this means is hearing, seeing, feeling or smelling something that simply is not there. A person who is hallucinating may see things that do not exist in reality, or hear people talking when they are by themselves. The hallucinations seem to be entirely real to the person who is currently experiencing them.
Every person who experiences psychosis does so individually; the exact cause is not always completely clear. There are; however, some forms of illnesses that may cause psychosis as well. There are triggers of psychosis in addition such as environmental factors, lack of sleep, or drug use. Certain situations may lead to specific types of psychosis. Illnesses that may cause psychosis include the following:
- A stroke
- Brain tumors or cysts
- Some forms of epilepsy
- HIV, syphilis and other infections that attack a person's brain
- Brain diseases like Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease and some chromosomal disorders
Psychosis may be triggered by alcohol and illegal drug abuse, to include stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine. Hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD often times cause people who use the drug to see things that are not in reality there, although the effect is temporary. People who do not get enough sleep over extended periods of time may experience symptoms of psychosis. Some prescription medications such as stimulants or steroids can cause symptoms of psychosis as well.
Some forms of psychosis are brought on by specific circumstances or conditions. Extreme personal stress, such as the stress experienced after the death of a family member, may trigger symptoms of psychosis. A person experiencing brief reactive psychosis may recover within a few days.
Using drugs or alcohol may cause symptoms of psychosis. The symptoms the person experiences may disappear after the effect of the drugs or alcohol wear off, although this is not always what happens. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol may experience psychotic symptoms if they suddenly stop taking the drug they are addicted to, or if they suddenly stop drinking alcohol.
Risk Factors for Psychosis
At this time it is not possible to precisely identify people who are likely to develop psychosis. Research; however, has shown that genetics might play a role. If one identical twin develops psychosis there is a 50% chance their twin will too. People with a close family member, such as a parent or sibling,' who experiences a psychotic disorder are more likely to develop a psychotic disorder. Children born with the genetic mutation known as, '22q11,' syndrome are at increased risk of developing a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.
Forms of Psychotic Disorders
The following forms of psychosis are referred to as, 'psychotic disorders.' Psychotic disorders can be triggered by stress, drug and alcohol abuse, illness, or injury. The disorders might also appear on their own.
- Psychotic Depression: Psychotic depression is a major form of depression with psychotic symptoms.
- Delusional Disorder: A person who experiences delusional disorder has a strong belief in something that is simply not real.
- Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a form of psychosis that lasts in excess of six months. Schizophrenia is a life-long form of disability.
- Bipolar Disorder: When a person experiences bipolar disorder, their moods swing from very low to very high. When the person's mood is high and positive, they might have symptoms of psychosis. The person may feel very good and think they have special powers; for example. When the person's mood is depressed, they might have psychotic symptoms that make them feel sad, angry, or even frightened. The symptoms include thinking another person is attempting to harm them.
Psychosis is something that is diagnosed through a psychiatric evaluation. What this means is a doctor will observe the affected person's behaviors and present questions concerning what they are experiencing. Medical testing and X-rays might be used in order to determine whether or not there is an underlying form of illness that is causing the person's symptoms. A friend of mine who passed away from pancreatic cancer; for example, saw a young girl in her hospice care room that was not there and with whom she interacted during her final days.
A number of the symptoms of psychosis are absolutely average in young people. A teenager; for example, might suddenly require more sleep in response to changes in their body. Small children many times speak with imaginary friends. If you are concerned about psychosis in a small child or a teenager, describe their behavior to a doctor.
Treatment of psychosis may involve a combination of medications and therapy. The majority of people recover from psychosis with treatment. The treatment for psychosis may include rapid tranquilization, medication, and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. What follows are descriptions of these types of treatments.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves meeting with a mental health counselor to regularly interact in regards to changing behaviors and thinking. The approach has been demonstrated to be effective in assisting people to make permanent changes and to more effectively manage their illness.
- Rapid Tranquilization: At times, people who experience psychosis may become agitated and be at risk of self-harm or of harming other people. In these instances, it might be necessary to calm the person down rapidly. The method of doing so is called, 'rapid tranquilization.' A doctor or emergency response personnel administers a fast-acting shot, or a liquid medication, to relax the person quickly.
- Drugs and Medication: Symptoms of psychosis may be controlled with medications referred to as, 'anti-psychotics.' The medications reduce delusions and hallucinations and help people to think with more clarity. The type of medication the person is prescribed depends on which symptoms they are experiencing. In many instances, people only need to take anti-psychotics for a short period of times in order to get their symptoms under control. People with schizophrenia might have to remain on such medications for the remainder of their lives.
Complications of Psychosis and the Potential for Recovery
Psychosis of itself does not present those affected with many medical complications. If psychosis remains untreated; however, it may make it difficult for the affected person to take good care of themselves. Poor self-care might cause other forms of illnesses to remain undiagnosed and untreated. The majority of people who experience psychosis recover with appropriate treatment. Even in severe instances, therapy and medications can help people to live a better life.
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