Psychosis is a serious symptom or psychiatric condition that involves an individual losing touch with the world around him or her. An individual who is in the middle of a psychotic episode will experience delusions, or false thoughts, and/or hallucinations, which causes him or her to see and hear things that are not really there. These individuals may also be unable to speak coherently or understand what others are saying to them, and may engage in inappropriate behaviors without actually being aware they are doing so. Additionally, intense feelings of paranoia and engagement in erratic behavior are especially common. Psychosis will affect each person differently, but in almost all cases can be extremely terrifying, sometimes causing an individual to harm him or herself or someone else.
A psychotic episode is usually indicative of a serious illness and anyone who is experiencing psychosis should be evaluated by a qualified mental health professional immediately so that care can be implemented in order to prevent the development of potentially damaging consequences.
Causes and Risk Factors for Psychosis
Each case of psychosis is going to be different and for this reason, the exact cause is not always able to be determined. In addition to certain mental health disorders causing the development of psychosis, there are a number of variables that can trigger its onset. The following are some commonly agreed upon causes:
Genetic: The presence of psychosis usually indicates the presence of a mental health disorder, many of which have a genetic component to them. If an individual has a family history of certain types of mental health disorders, he or she is more vulnerable to the development of a mental health disorder and therefore psychosis.
Physical: Research has identified certain medical conditions that have the ability to cause psychosis. Some of these conditions include Parkinson’s disease, chromosomal disorders, brain tumors, dementia, HIV, syphilis, some forms of epilepsy, and strokes.
Environmental: Finally, psychosis has been known to be triggered by a number of different environmental factors. The use of drugs and/or alcohol, certain prescription medications, and even extreme lack of sleep have the potential to lead to psychosis.
- Personal history of mental illness
- Family history of mental illness
- Being exposed to toxic substances
- History of substance abuse
- Experiencing severe trauma
- Having recently given birth
Signs and Symptoms of Psychosis
A psychotic episode will occur in three different phases, which are referred to as the prodome phase, the acute phase, and finally the recovery phase. Each phase is associated with a number of different signs and symptoms and the length of each phase will vary from person to person. The following phases and the associated symptoms are described in more detail below.
Phases one (Prodome): The symptoms in this phase may not be very noticeable, but it is common for people in this phase to report a change in their feelings, thoughts, and perceptions, all of which become more problematic over time. Some common symptoms experienced in this phase may include:
- Problems concentrating
- Depressed mood
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Decreased motivation
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Development of anxiety
- Becoming increasingly suspicious of others
- Persistent unusual thoughts or beliefs
Phases two (Acute): This is the phase when the symptoms of psychosis really begin to become apparent and the person who is experiencing the psychosis may become extremely distressed by what is happening to them. Additionally, they may begin to act so out of character that close family and friends usually tend to become extremely concerned about their loved one. Common symptoms associated with this phase include:
- Disorganized speech
- Overall difficulty functioning
- Extremely active or lethargic
- Unusually excited
- Showing less emotion
- Becoming angry or upset with no apparent reason
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Phase three (Recovery): When treatment is sought those who are struggling with psychosis will be able to effectively recover. While some of the previous symptoms may linger for a bit, over time and with continued treatment individuals will be able to return to their normal, everyday lives.
Disorders Associated with Symptoms of Psychosis
The following is a list of various mental health and medical conditions that are associated with psychosis:
Schizophrenia is probably the most common mental health disorder someone thinks of when referring to psychosis. This serious disorder is characterized by hallucinations and delusions that make it difficult, if not impossible for the individual to determine what is real from what is not real.
Bipolar disorder is another chronic mental health disorder that causes an individual to shift drastically between a state of mania and a state of depression. Both of these mood states have been known to cause psychotic symptoms, most often in the form of visual or auditory hallucinations.
Certain forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease has the ability to cause psychosis, which may be due to the deterioration of cells in the brain. Those with dementia tend to experience paranoid thoughts, visual hallucinations, and delusions.
Alcoholism results in a large number of physical problems, which can result in delirium tremens, a condition that involves hallucinations and delusions.
Physical illnesses or medical conditions also have the ability to trigger the onset of psychosis. Medical and physical illnesses disrupt the structure and functioning of the brain, which can then trigger the onset of psychosis.
Treatment for Psychosis
At MeadowWood’s mental health center, the approach used to treat psychosis is going to largely depend on the underlying cause for this condition, which most often times includes the presence of another disorder, such as schizophrenia or major depression. In order to determine its origin, anyone who is suffering from a psychotic episode is going to have to complete a full medical and psychiatric evaluation, which will help our mental health professionals to determine the exact cause. When in the throes of a psychotic episode, most individuals will require hospitalization with 24-hour monitoring by mental health professionals, which is why a mental health treatment clinic is usually the first choice when it comes to treatment options. Medications are provided in order to help stabilize the patient’s mood and to help him or her be able to once again perceive the world in a more accurate and organized manner. During stabilization at MeadowWood in New Castle, psychiatrists and physicians are able to closely watch the patient to determine medication effectiveness and make any changes that are deemed necessary. During this time, treatment for specific mental health disorders will also be implemented including any additional medication.
In addition to medication needs, MeadowWood’s treatment center will get the patient on the right path to recovery by beginning the therapeutic process through a number of different treatment methodologies including individual therapy, group sessions, and sometimes family therapy. Through a variety of treatment methods, patients can learn more about psychosis and how it impaired their perceptions about the world. Additionally, a patient can learn to cope with their emotions surrounding their current condition and develop the necessary skills to manage the symptoms of any mental health disorder that should exist. Furthermore, MeadowWood’s mental health clinic will help to instill in patients how important it is to adhere to a medication schedule and continue to engage in therapy. A mental health treatment center can help a person who is struggling with psychosis get the stabilization they need to jump start the treatment process so that they can get their life back on track.