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Psychosis: When Reality and Fiction Collide

A man imagining of hearing things / Photo by 123rf.com

 

Telling which is reality and which is part of the imagination is the essence of what makes a psychotic person. They are detached from the physical world and have developed a warped sense of it. As a result of this, they may engage in activities they are not even aware that they are doing. This may actually be more dangerous to them than it is to the people connected to them.

Psychosis does not mean that a person prefers to dwell in the “inner world” or prefer to be alone with their thoughts. It is a mental disorder wherein a person may not even be aware that everything they see or do is based on a hallucination or merely a product of their thoughts.

A person suffering from psychosis needs immediate attention because being psychotic can lead them to become suicidal. It is reported by the National Institute of Mental Health that three in 100 people have had psychotic experiences. In addition, Mental Health America also declares that 3.5% of the American population had episodes of psychosis.

To be able to show what having psychosis really means, its definition, symptoms, causes, types, and treatments will be clarified in the next few sections.

 

Meaning of Psychosis

According to Health Navigator New Zealand, Psychosis is an altered state of mind in which it is difficult for a person to distinguish what is real and what is not. Since reality is distorted, this may cause psychotics to harm themselves or others around them.

 

 

Symptoms

To be able to identify whether one has Psychosis, Mental Health America notes their symptoms which are:

- Hearing or seeing things which do not exist

- Always getting the feeling of being watched

- Unusual or inappropriate behavior

- Being numb or indifferent to important situations

- Strange body movements or positioning

- Decline in academics or career

- Change in personal hygiene or appearance

- Change in personality

- Being angrier, more irrational or afraid towards loved ones

- Being unable to sleep or focus

- Disorganized or unusual speech or writing

- Increased avoidance of situations that require socialization

 

To continue, Health Navigator lists some additional signs and symptoms

- Delusions

These are false or irrational beliefs that oppose their culture and family.

- Hallucinations

This means having experienced non-existent things through the five senses (hearing, seeing, touching, smelling and tasting).

They may also get the feeling that there are voices in their head commanding them to do something.

- Confused thinking

Having thoughts jumbled or thinking faster or slower.

- Low motivation

Not wanting to act on plans or loss of interest to engage in other activities.


 

Kinds of Psychosis

 

 

Mental Health America states that those disorders that have psychosis as one of their main symptoms are also called Psychotic Disorders. These are:

1. Schizophrenia

It is a dangerous mental disorder that influences a person’s thoughts, feelings and actions.

A person with Schizophrenia can have difficulty differentiating reality from imagination.

2. Schizophreniform Disorder

This is similar to Schizophrenia but only lasts from one to six months.

If it takes longer than that duration it is already considered as Schizophrenia.

3. Schizoaffective Disorder

A person affected by this means that they have continual symptoms of psychosis together with periodic symptoms of affective or mood disorders.

4. Delusional Disorder

If an individual suffers from this, it denotes that they have irrational or fanatical beliefs or suspicions which they deem to be true.

The beliefs can range from possible or impossible.

To be considered as one suffering from Delusional Disorder, a person must have symptoms lasting more than a month.

5. Brief Psychotic Disorder

The symptoms of this usually last from a day to a month and is usually a result of a stressful event.

Even though the person may experience intense distress during an episode of psychosis, they will quickly go back to reality and the symptoms would not come back.

6. Schizotypal Disorder

This disorder is often mistaken for Schizophrenia since the person suffering from this also has outlandish beliefs, peculiar thoughts, and paranoia.

They may have short psychotic episodes that are accompanied by delusions or hallucinations.

However, they these psychotic episodes do not happen as often, as long or as intense as Schizophrenia.

 

A woman with split personality suffering from schizophrenia / Photo by 123rf.com

 

Causes

Elements that can cause an individual as stated by Health Navigator New Zealand are:

1. Related mental illnesses

This can come from having depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

2. Related physical conditions that affect the brain

This can also be caused by stroke, brain or dementia

3. Serious head injury

Having the head damaged could seriously affect the brain.

4. Usage of drugs

Using cannabis or its synthetic counterpart and methamphetamines may also cause this.

 

Treatment

Additionally, they suggest that people suffering from psychosis engage in:

- Taking antipsychotic medicines

- Taking medication which may help lessen anxiety, depression, agitation or insomnia

- Having social support from family members and friends.

 

If an individual is affected by psychosis, they should not only seek the help of a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, but they should also opt to actively seek social support so that it may not endanger them or their loved ones. It is also advised that they get plenty of rest and sleep, try to avoid stressful situations or difficult people and to also avoid the consumption of alcoholic drinks and drugs. Taking medication and being willing to take part in therapy may also help free them from their psychotic symptoms.

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