What to do if you think you might be experiencing psychosis

Did you know that mental health challenges affect millions of people each year? In 2021, a staggering 57.8 million people in the United States experienced a mental health challenge. 

These numbers highlight the important impact that mental health has on our society and the urgent need for understanding, support, and practical resources to address this growing concern. 

It touches the lives of people from all walks of life. Mental health challenges know no boundaries and can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or social status. It’s complex and takes on various forms.

One such mental health challenge, which comes a great deal of stigma, discrimination, and stereotypes, is psychosis. Experiencing symptoms of psychosis can be distressing and confusing because the sufferer doesn’t know what to expect and doesn’t want to be confined to a mental institution for the rest of their life. 

It’s important to understand that psychosis is a condition that leads to a great deal of misunderstanding and mistreatment. Many people who have endured psychosis talk about having a bad time not only with the experiences but also with the way they were treated.

Remember, one in ten people worldwide experience hearing voices, and many do not find the experiences distressing or related to their mental health. Below, we’ll review psychosis symptoms, causes, prevention, related conditions, schizophrenia, and treatments. Remember, you’re not alone, and help and hope are available.

What Are the Symptoms of Psychosis?

Psychosis is a psychological condition in which a person is accused of having lost touch with reality. It is a set of experiences that shape how people think, feel, and act. These are some of the most common warning signs that a person may be experiencing psychosis.

Hallucinations and Delusions

Hallucinations are when you see, hear, smell, taste, or feel things that other people don’t. Some people believe they are having sensations that come from their mind rather than from something happening around you. People who experience hallucinations come up with a lot of interesting explanations for what is happening to them. For example, some believe they can see or hear other dimensions of reality. Some people believe there have been technological advances that enable governments or powerful people to impose these experiences. And, in fact, some of these technologies do exist. These experiences are real, even though there’s no clearly identifiable external stimulus causing them.

Delusions are when someone strongly believes in things that go against what is thought to be reality by most people. These beliefs can seem irrational or impossible, but for those who are experiencing the experiences associated with psychosis, it makes no sense to see the world in any other way. For example, a person starts to collect experiences that indicate they are being followed. As coincidences and serendipities increase and as evidence comes at them from a variety of different sources, they may become convinced they are being watched by hidden cameras; they may conclude this is happening because they have superpowers; they may feel extremely important in a way that doesn’t match how others see them.

Again, these delusions are “real” to a person with psychosis. They can significantly impact how a person thinks, acts, and interacts with others.

Disorganized Thinking and Speech

Psychosis makes the brain work very hard and leads to preoccupation with thoughts about the stimuli (hallucinations or other experiences) that so distresses the person. Then, the person is asked to carry out regular activities in life and it appears like their thoughts and speech are disorganized. This can lead to:

  • Conversations that don’t make sense
  • Speech that jumps around
  • Trouble focusing on a topic

Thoughts may suddenly appear to be fragmented as the sufferer can’t possibly articulate all that is in their head. In this manner, it becomes challenging to articulate coherent ideas or communicate effectively. 

Lack of Motivation and Social Withdrawal

Psychosis is characterized by a noticeable loss of motivation and interest in everyday tasks. Instead, the person becomes focused more on what is immediately necessary for their survival. The following types of observed behavior may start to apply:

  • Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
  • Low motivation in getting tasks started
  • Trouble staying focused and concentrating

Social withdrawal is also common. This is because the person may feel alone or afraid of being judged or labeled because of their condition. This can continue even when a person has recovered from other parts of psychosis.

Causes of Psychosis

Each person who experiences psychosis is on a journey. The potential causes of this journey are different and might vary widely from person to person. Industries are built around the concept that psychosis is caused by:  

  • Genetics
  • Chemical imbalances
  • Anatomical abnormalities in the brain

Indeed, if you look at a college textbook, you will see a lot of evidence in support of these claims like twin studies and pictures of severe brain damage. This causes many of us to forget that there are “life” factors that can either start or intensify symptoms. For example, the following:

  • Substance abuse
  • Suffering a traumatic experience
  • Chronic stress 
  • Life transitions

It is important to work with mental health professionals who are curious and open-minded about the causes of psychosis. Too many have read textbooks and see statistics instead of a person. It is important to craft different treatments for different individuals that are based on the idea that the person can recover and adapt to the challenges they are facing. 

Psychosis Prevention Strategy

Even though it may not always be possible to stop experiences that lead to psychosis from happening, there is a great deal of learning that can help a person manage. Still there may be times of overwhelm and a person needs to work hard to remain healthy and functioning. Keeping your mental state of mind in good shape is essential by using a psychosis prevention strategy.

You can do this by making healthy living choices. For example, the following can all help with overall mental health:

  • Regular exercise
  • Having a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Learning how to deal with stress

Building a solid support network and getting professional help at the first sign of trouble are important ways to prevent symptoms from worsening.

Other Conditions Linked to Psychosis

Psychosis can be a symptom of various other underlying conditions. For instance, other conditions linked to psychosis could be the following:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Major depressive disorder with psychotic features

Still many other “disorders” coincide with psychosis and are similar. Sometimes a mix of neurodevelopmental disorders underlie experiences with psychosis, disorders such as:

  • Autism
  • Dyslexia
  • ADHD
  • OCD

Also, many disorders associated with trauma may likewise underlie and mix to cause experiences of psychosis, disorders such as:

  • PTSD
  • Personality Disorders
  • Dissociative Disorders

Substance-induced psychosis may occur due to drug use, particularly stimulants or hallucinogens. Certain medical conditions, such as brain tumors or infections or dementia, can also lead to psychosis. Recognizing and diagnosing the underlying conditions is essential for effective treatment and management of psychosis.

Psychosis vs. Schizophrenia

It’s important to note the distinction between psychosis vs. schizophrenia. While psychosis refers to symptoms, schizophrenia is a specific mental disorder.

It has several signs and symptoms, one of which is psychosis. Schizophrenia often causes long-term problems with how a person thinks, feels, and sees the world. On the other hand, psychosis can happen as a short-term event.

A mental health worker must make a correct diagnosis to develop the right treatment plan and give the right kind of help.

Treatments for Psychosis

Treatments for psychosis are usually treated with varied methods tailored to each person’s needs. Antipsychotics and other medicines can help control symptoms and make them less severe.

There are other treatments, such as behavioral interventions. For example, the following:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Family therapy

These can help people learn how to deal with problems and feel better generally. Peer support groups and community tools can also help give understanding, compassion, and direction.

Psychosis Unveiled!

Experiencing symptoms of psychosis can be overwhelming, but remember that help is available. Understanding the encompassing signs, help, and support is essential to treating psychosis.

People can obtain help and resources for their recovery. Remember, you are not alone; with proper care, it is possible to regain control and lead a fulfilling life.

Taking that first step towards seeking help is an empowering act that can lead to a brighter future. Reach out, speak up, and embrace the journey of healing. You deserve support, understanding, and the opportunity to live a fulfilling life.

If you are seeking valuable resources and support for navigating psychosis, look no further than Tim Dreby’s website. Visit the website to access a wealth of information and tools tailored to individuals experiencing psychosis.