Multiple stigmas surround mental health, and psychosis has many negative connotations. The truth is that psychosis affects more people than we realize.
It is thought that 3 in every 100 people will experience some level of a psychosis diagnosis in their lifetime, meaning that you or someone you know is likely to experience psychosis at some point in their life.
Working towards a better understanding of this mental illness is essential to remove the idea of ‘stigma’ and instead focus on the facts.
So, what is psychosis, what causes it, is it permanent, and how can we look after ourselves or a loved one who might experience this?
What Exactly is Psychosis?
Psychosis is often portrayed in movies and shows as the ‘mad’ character with a breakdown and hearing voices. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Psychosis is a range of symptoms that can vary drastically in severity.
Psychotic disorders are perceiving or interpreting reality differently and losing a sense of reality. This can manifest as delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech or behavior.
Delusions are false beliefs that can seem very real to a person with psychosis and often involve paranoia or fear of people or situations around them. Hallucinations are when someone experiences something (such as voices) that is not there in reality.
These psychotic symptoms can majorly impact everyday life, making it hard to differentiate between reality and fantasy.
It can be incredibly disruptive and confusing for the person who is going through the psychotic episode, with some not realizing at all that their behaviors are abnormal.
Stages of Psychosis
Psychosis can be broken down into three main stages.
The first is the prodrome stage, when a person displays subtle signs of psychosis, such as mood changes, changes in sleep or eating habits, or social withdrawal.
The second stage is the acute stage, where a person experiences full-blown psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. This is the most intense and disruptive stage of psychosis.
The third and final stage is recovery, where a person begins to recover from the episode and can eventually return to normal functioning. It is important to note that recovery times vary depending on the person and situation.
Types of Psychotic Disorder
Multiple types of psychotic disorders can be diagnosed, but the most common is schizophrenia.
Other examples include postpartum psychosis, bipolar disorder with psychotic features, and other psychoses of organic origin or due to substance use.
Psychotic symptoms will vary slightly depending on the mental health illness, but the core features of psychosis remain the same across all disorders; delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech or behavior.
Only mental health professionals should diagnose a person with a psychotic disorder, as they must consider multiple types and levels of severity. The appropriate treatment and therapy will depend on the diagnosis.
Research suggests that it could be due to genetic and environmental factors, such as drug or alcohol use, chronic stress, brain changes, and trauma.
And it is essential to remember that not everyone will experience the same severity or duration of psychotic symptoms. Some may have only one episode that lasts a short time, while others may experience multiple episodes over long periods.
What are the Causes of Psychosis?
There is no clear-cut answer as to what causes psychosis, which partly adds to the mystery of this mental illness.
Some factors are considered to be trigger points, such as substance abuse, extreme stress levels, and physical trauma. Stressful life events, a family history of mental illness, or a predisposition to psychosis can all play a role in the manifestation of psychotic symptoms.
Biological factors can also be at play, such as an imbalance in certain brain chemicals or a person’s genetics. In some cases, psychotic episodes can be caused by medical conditions such as brain tumors, HIV/AIDS, and other physical illnesses.
In short, the exact cause of psychosis is unknown, and different factors could contribute to an individual’s experience.
Is Psychosis Permanent – or is it Treatable?
It should be clear that psychosis is a treatable mental health illness, unlike many perceive it to be.
With the proper treatment and support, it is possible to manage the symptoms of psychosis and lead a meaningful life.
Treatment typically consists of a combination of medications for symptom management and psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Other supportive treatments may be beneficial in helping someone cope with the psychosis and its impact on daily life, such as family therapy, vocational rehabilitation, and peer support.
It is important to note that recovery from a psychotic episode is not immediate; it can take time for someone to adjust and re-establish their daily routine. But with proper support, this is achievable.
Early intervention is not always possible. However, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to improving a person’s prognosis and long-term outcomes.
How to Support Someone Experiencing Psychosis
It is crucial to provide emotional support and reassurance if a family member or friend is dealing with a psychosis-related episode.
It can be helpful to listen without judgment and offer practical help if needed. It may also be beneficial to educate yourself on the symptoms of psychosis so you can better understand what the person is going through.
It is important to remember that everyone experiences psychosis differently, so it is best to approach each person’s situation with an open mind.
Of course, if you are concerned about the well-being of your loved one, it is essential to seek medical advice from a qualified mental health professional.
Supporting someone dealing with psychosis can be challenging but rewarding if you are patient and understanding. With the right help, this person can lead a life of purpose and meaning.
Final Thoughts: Is Psychosis Permanent or Treatable?
Psychosis can be a frightening and isolating experience, but it is essential to remember that it is treatable. With the right help and support, it is possible to manage symptoms and lead a meaningful life.
It is also crucial to understand the importance of early diagnosis and intervention to improve outcomes for those struggling with psychosis.
Educating yourself on psychosis is essential in understanding the condition and providing the best support. From bipolar disorder to schizophrenia, psychosis can be part of many mental illnesses, but it is not permanent and does not define the person.
By offering patience, understanding, and support to someone suffering from psychosis, you can help them progress toward recovery.
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