What Is Psychosis?

Psychosis is the name given to a wide range of mental ailments categorized by periods in which someone loses touch with reality. These episodes are difficult to process because they’re so convincing. Someone in the middle of a psychotic episode is unable to differentiate what they are experiencing from consensus reality.

Did you know that somewhere around 3% of Americans will experience a psychotic episode in their lifetime? That’s around 10 million people! Still when one considers that one in every ten people hears voices worldwide, this 3% estimate seems conservative. 

Psychosis is much more common than many people think or would like to believe. As with other taboo DSM classifications of yesteryear. like homosexuality or drapetomania, schizophrenia is so badly stigmatized that related experiences go widely underreported.  

If you’re curious to learn more or have ever asked yourself, “What is psychosis?” You’re in the right place. Read on to find out more!

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis is the word used to describe a mental health problem that causes people to perceive things differently from how they are. The two main examples of psychosis are categorized by episodes of hallucination and delusion. Often, these are experienced at the same time. 

Hallucinations are defined by sensing things that don’t exist. This includes sights, sounds, feels, and smells. Hearing voices is a common hallucination reported by and observed in people suffering from psychosis. Delusions are when someone believes things that aren’t true, something that seems baseless and illogical.

At times delusions and hallucinations make sufferers act in peculiar manners as they react to things without a basis in reality. Paranoid thoughts involving friends and family are common examples of delusion. Beliefs of intricate plots being drawn against them and unfounded suspicions are good examples.

Psychosis Treatments

Treatments for the many forms of psychosis need an individually tailored approach depending on the needs of the patient. Antipsychotic medication may help relieve some experiences that trigger psychosis, but there’s no magic pill. If pharmaceutical aid is proven effective for the patient, they have to deal with negative side effects. Long term use of antipsychotics is often imposed while health risks are not considered.

Psychological therapy is a proven treatment for helping a patient overcome their challenges. Speaking with hopeful professionals who are knowledgeable in specific strategies is helpful. Speaking to professionals who simply refer the person to the hospital is not and say they are trained to work with such conditions is not.

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is thought to be helpful with people dealing with schizophrenia. I believe CBT helps reduce internalized stigma and is a valuable tool at times. Family sessions have also proven to be effective in reducing the need for extended stays in the hospital. Teaching family members to care for and understand the plight of their loved ones allows for significant aid from the comfort of home.

Reducing reliance on unfamiliar places and people helps to lower the stress of the patient in general, but limiting the stress too much also reduces the individuals’ ability to function. If the person in question continues to have severe psychotic episodes, having a structure they can adhere to like a job or a program where they volunteer to work with others often helps maintain and build on functioning.

Psychosis treatments aren’t guaranteed to be effective. The nature of the condition is difficult to understand and there is so much stigma, discrimination, and abuse that people in a break endure, that there remain people who fail to thrive. Many attempts and different approaches are often necessary to see a positive effect.

Causes of Psychosis

Psychosis isn’t recognized as a mental health condition in and of itself. It’s seen in people who are struggling with a diagnosed mental health condition in conjunction with other symptoms specific to it.

Psychosis is a common symptom of schizophrenia, a condition that causes a wide range of debilitating mental effects.

The question of ‘What is psychosis?’ often leads people to explore other conditions where psychosis is a foundational symptom. In the DSMV, there are 30 different diagnoses with features of psychosis in them. This helps further the understanding of psychosis in a general sense.

Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that disrupts healthy thought patterns due to delusions. Traditionally. When someone has a psychotic break, they are often thought to have schizophrenia. However, bipolar disorders that cause feelings of intense despair or mania can also trigger a psychotic episode. 

Causes of psychosis are specific to the individual but are sometimes thought to be a response to traumatic experiences. Changes in the physical makeup of brain structure can make us perceive the world in unexpected ways.

Delusion and hallucination are relatively commonplace after sustaining serious brain trauma. Tumors and the abnormal growth of brain tissue are often observed in people suffering from symptoms of psychosis.

I believe psychosis results from a collection of experiences that trigger thought patterns. Some of these experiences like intuitions, dreams, or reads on interpersonal energy are common to everybody. 

Signs of Psychosis

Signs of psychosis are relatively simple to spot in someone suffering from a severe psychotic episode. Anyone who insists on an alternate unobservable version of reality is most likely having a psychotic break.

We’re quite in tune with a standard shared version of reality, and when someone deviates, it will usually be obvious.

Someone interacting with people, sights, sounds, and voices that don’t exist is a strong sign they’re suffering from psychosis. If they’re experiencing fear and paranoia without an obvious cause, these are also strong indications of psychosis.

Indications of psychosis can be subtle and difficult to diagnose in some people. Someone who seems outwardly calm and collected might be suffering considerable internal turmoil. Losing focus and freezing up may indicate they’re dealing with their psychosis inwardly.

Not everyone exhibits wild and sudden changes in demeanor or emotion. Some people suffer for years without ever being able to draw a line between their delusions and reality. If you suspect someone to be suffering from psychosis, you can contact a professional and ask their opinion on how best to proceed.

Help for Psychosis

Fortunately for sufferers of psychosis and mental issues that cause it to be a regular occurrence in their lives, help exists. A wide array of medical aid is available in the form of therapy, prescription medicine, peer support, employment support and other professional therapeutic aid.

Before help for psychosis can be found and implemented to the best effect, a consultation must be made to tackle the issue. It’s not as simple as prescribing a blanket medication or therapy, as every individual has different needs.

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