Psychosis is a mental condition in which the patient experiences hallucinations or delusions. Hallucination could be auditory or visual. In case of auditory hallucination, the patient hears the voice of the people who are not around in reality and in case of visual hallucination the patient sees something or a person even though the thing or that person is not present in reality. Delusions are also experienced under the condition of psychosis. Delusion means having thoughts which are far away from the real world.
A person suffering from psychosis tends to hurt themselves and others around if the mental condition is ignored and not given required treatment timely. Thus, it is very important to recognize the symptoms of this mental disorder timely and attend to it promptly with utmost care.
Here are few common symptoms of psychosis:
- Depression: Depression for a long-time harms mental health and shall be taken care of. If a person is sad and depressed or is having a heavy feeling in the heart, then they should not be ignored or left alone for a long time. Consulting a doctor in such a case would be the best solution.
- Delusion: As explained above, if thoughts of a person differ from reality, or if a person is not willing to accept the reality, due to any emotional or mental trauma, tragedy or any other reason; consulting a doctor is advisable in such a state. Delusion is of various types. In paranoia, people think they are being followed though they are not; whereas, in somatic delusion, people think they are ill though they are not. Similarly, there are other types of delusion where patient have various types of thoughts that are different from reality. The extent of delusion could vary from patient to patient. An early treatment can save things from worsening.
- Suspiciousness: A mental state of suspicion on everyone or multiple people in social circle or family makes the life difficult for the patient and others. People in such a mental state needs counselling and in some cases even medical treatment.
- Anxiety: Anxiety and panic attacks happen when people cannot control their reactions and find it hard to stay calm. Symptoms of panic attacks are sweating, stammering or dizziness.
- Speech problems: Disorganized speech is another symptom of the onset of psychosis in the body. Changing topics erratically when discussing/talking in formal or informal gatherings, could also be a sign of psychosis.
- Seclusion: Patients with psychosis isolate themselves from family and friends and refrain from attending formal and informal gatherings. In such a case it is important to get such patients back to social life by giving them special attention and seeking doctor’s advice for other better solutions.
- Sleep : Too much sleeping or sleeping too less are both indicators of something is going wrong in the body.
- Hallucination: When the patient of psychosis experiences auditory or visual hallucinations, they can act abnormally. For example, they might talk to someone who does not exist, or the patient may smell, hear or feel something which has no existence; in such cases consulting a doctor immediately would be wise. It gets difficult for the patient to differentiate between the reality and what he is experiencing in reality. The patients generally have to struggle a lot to figure out what is happening to them. This tends to affect their day to day performance in professional or personal life.
- Suicidal thoughts: More than all the above symptoms, if a person is experiencing suicidal thoughts or has even attempted a suicidal action, then the condition should be considered alarming. In such cases, it becomes even more important to seek doctor’s guidance at earliest for the safety of the patient.
If any person is experiencing few or all the above-mentioned symptoms, then it implies that they are probably already going through psychosis. Hence, it is wise to consult a concerned doctor regularly and follow his advice/treatment.
Just as there are different types of delusions, there are different reasons causing these delusions and thus psychosis. Each patient of psychosis suffers differently; hence, it was difficult to determine the exact cause of the mental condition in any patient even after extensive studies made on the subject. Few causes that can be listed for this mental condition are:
- Genetic: One of the causes of psychosis could be genetic. If a close family member, especially in blood relation, is already suffering from the mental disorder or any family member in past generations has suffered from the mental condition then the chances of having psychosis increase.
- Illness: Few brain diseases like a brain tumour, cysts, Huntington's disease and few chromosomal disorders can cause psychosis. Another cause of psychosis could be mental impairment caused by diseases like Alzheimer's disease, stroke, syphilis, HIV etc. Schizophrenia is one such mental illness that causes psychotic disorders. This type of illness is usually seen in late teenage or early adulthood.
- Injury: A severe or at times minor head injury can lead to psychosis.
- Drugs: Few drugs or intake of alcohol can trigger psychosis in a person’s body. Stimulants like cocaine, methamphetamine, drugs like LSD and steroids are some of the triggers of the mental disorder in a person’s body.
- Extreme personal stress: It could be another major cause of psychosis and is a common reason. For instance, the death of a close family member can disturb mental condition leading to psychosis. Depression experienced by females after giving birth to a baby can also cause psychosis. Usually, psychosis caused by personal stress lasts only for a few days or months. Such patients are likely to recover soon when given appropriate attention.
If anyone is facing similar symptoms as mentioned above and doubts of suffering from psychosis, then it is advisable to see the doctor. A clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, neurologist or even psychoanalyst may be the right professionals to contact for this purpose. The doctor may not recommend any tests for assessing the presence of psychosis as there are no such tests to confirm its presence. However, there can be tests like brain scans and others to find out the occurrence of other diseases causing psychosis. The doctors diagnose the mental condition of psychosis in a patient by asking a few questions related to behaviour, mood swings, day to day life, family history and medical history. Such questions help the doctor to understand whether the patient is experiencing hallucinations and delusions or not. Also, with the help of this general discussion, doctors wisely figure out the presence or absence of other symptoms of psychosis in the patient.
They will not only diagnose if the patient is going through the mental condition of psychosis or not but also will rule out the possibility of other related mental illness that might have led to psychosis. Based on the probable cause of the mental condition in the patient, doctors can advise the appropriate treatment and guidance to the patient.
Medication is certainly the first step in the treatment of psychosis. Along with the medication, talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and family therapy go hand in hand. Sometimes visiting two-three specialists simultaneously may be required if the treatment would demand. The team of mental health professionals collectively directs their efforts to treat the patient and cure his mental condition. Here are the steps that are involved in the treatment of psychosis:
- Treatment of psychosis begins with the complete assessment of the mental condition, its stage in the patient and patient's requirements to overcome it.
- After that, antipsychotic medicines like risperidone, olanzapine, ziprasidone, aripiprazole etc. can be given by the doctors to the patient to reduce the occurrence of hallucinations. Mood stabilizers like lithium, carbamazepine, lamotrigine, divalproex sodium etc. can also be part of the medication given to patients with psychosis. Any medicine of psychosis shall be taken sincerely as per the prescribed schedule. Medicines treating psychosis can be oral or injectable. In either case, medicines shall be taken under doctor’s supervision only as antipsychotic medicines block the effect of a chemical dopamine which is responsible for transmitting messages to the brain. Such medicines could have certain side effects thereby making them unsuitable for a few patients. Thus, the doctor is the best guide to assess the mental condition and prescribe the right medicine after studying the case thoroughly.
- Next most important thing that is required for the treatment of psychosis is psychological treatment by way of therapies. Therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy help to understand the behaviour of the patient and make him aware of his current condition. By way of such therapies, doctors aim to modify negative behaviour and thoughts in the patients thereby helping the patients to reduce anxiety and distress so that they can regain control over their mind. This helps the patients to return to normal routine in their professional and personal life.
- In addition to the above treatments, it is very important to educate the patient about psychosis. Psychoeducation will empower the patient to understand his mental condition, resist the hindrances and overcome this mental condition.
- Along with educating the patient, doctors also educate the family as the family plays a vital role in the recovery of the patient. Complete family support and understanding on the part of the family members comfort the patient. Family members are also made aware of how to handle the patient who is suffering from the mental condition especially when the patient is having suicidal thoughts. Family support is equally important to take out the patient from the state of depression, emotional stress and other symptoms of psychosis.
There could be a number of a few preventive measures that one could take to prevent the occurrence of psychosis.
- Genetic history assessment: A person, who has a genetic history of any kind of psychosis, is recommended to get assessed by the doctor who will obtain the genetic profile of the patient. This helps to prevent the risk of genetically linked psychotic disorders.
- Fight depression: Fighting against low times in professional and personal life with mental strength and strong willpower would give sound mental health to every person eliminating any chance of psychosis.
- Treat Mental Illness: If a person is suffering from mental illness that causes psychosis, then an early treatment of the mental illness can prevent the appearance of psychosis.
- Handle mental stress: Overcoming the challenges (emotional and physical both) with a positive attitude will lower mental stress minimizing the chances of occurrence of psychosis.
- Avoid drugs: Excessive intake of alcohol and drugs and too much dependency on them takes the person to an imaginary world and this is when they start losing consciousness of the real world.
- Injuries: Brain is the most vital organ of consciousness. It is wise to protect the head while doing any activity like driving, playing, exercising, dancing etc. One can even use safety gears for the head if required. Prevention of head injury will prevent the incidence of psychosis.
There are several complications attached to the mental condition of psychosis. The biggest complication is with the patient who experiences suicidal thoughts. It is not only dangerous for the patient himself, but it becomes difficult for the family to understand how to deal with the patient. Such cases require a doctor's guidance and the right treatment to overcome this complication. Some patients with psychosis may experience suicidal thoughts sooner or later in absence of early treatment of psychosis. Even otherwise, this mental disorder makes day to day life difficult for the patient.
There are few myths prevailing about psychosis. First is that it is considered a mental illness although it is a mental condition. A person suffering from psychosis is not as senseless as commonly supposed, the patient perceives reality differently than what exists. Some people believe that psychosis cannot be treated, however, the reality differs. It can be treated well with a combination of medicines and therapies (as mentioned above). Another myth is that Schizophrenia is synonymous with psychosis, though it is not so, schizophrenia is a type of mental illness that causes a psychotic disorder.
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