Experiencing psychosis shouldn’t stop you from living a fulfilling life.
What delays your journey to recovery may be as a result of having limited knowledge about psychosis, support and treatment available.
I have decided to write this valid information in a way anyone can relate to and also feel reassured that there is still hope for those who are experiencing psychosis.
This post aims to explain how to know you have psychosis and recover. You will have a better understanding of psychosis, causes and types of psychosis and the best treatment options available.
So, without any further delay, let me begin by asking you some questions which may help you to assess whether you are having early warning signs of psychosis or not.
if you are ready let’s begin!.
- In recent times, have you noticed any unusual distressing experience such as hearing or seeing things that other people can’t identify with or feeling that people want to harm you without any valid reasons?.
- Are you frightening of these experiences and not comfortable sharing them with others?.
- Are you a loved one wondering why your close relative or friend has changed in their attitude and interaction with you and others?.
If your answers for the above questions is yes, then continue to read to understand what could be happening to you or your loved ones.
Be rest assured that you are not alone!. There is help and support available wherever you are.
Before, I go into my discussion about psychosis and all you want to know.
I will share a little story with you that may help you understand psychosis better and the reason I had to put this information out there.
My recent interaction with my patient, who suffers from psychosis inspired me to write this post.
During our conversation, he expressed that all he desires is to be symptoms free. I could sense his frustration and hopelessness, despite been tried on two other antipsychotic medications.
He asked if there was anything that could help to alleviate the persistent voices in his head. He reports the voices triggered his paranoia, and he struggles with his day to day activities.
At that point, I wished there was one pill we could offer him to take away his debilitating symptoms.
He said his friends and family are estranged and frightened to visit because of his illness.
I felt sad about his situation because social and family support is very vital in his recovery. I wondered if things would have been different for him if the professionals could have done more to educate and support his relatives when he first presented.
As a mental health professional, I noticed that some sufferers are often misunderstood due to limited knowledge of psychosis from those around them.
To my amazement, I have also witnessed a few health professionals in the non-mental health field expressed limited knowledge about psychosis and other mental illness.
It got me thinking that if they have limited knowledge, then what chance does the general public have.
I realised we have a long way to go and more grounds to cover in raising awareness of mental health. Hence the reason I started my blog to ensure mental health topics is written in a way readers can understand and relate to.
I believe we change the narrative and stigma of mental illness by talking more about it, improving carers/family support who are caring for those with mental illness and also knowing where to go for help.
So, let’s go ahead and define psychosis, causes and types of psychosis in the next paragraph.
What is psychosis?
Psychosis is a mental health condition that causes a person to lose a touch of reality. ( definition of psychosis).
What is Psychosis like?
Sometimes, psychosis can make people hear, feel or see things(hallucinations) others around cannot identify with.
In some cases, people experiencing psychosis can have a distorted perception which, in turn, causes them to interpret things differently from those around them.
I’d like to keep it simple, so it’s easier for you to understand.
It can be frightening for individuals you have experienced it or living with it.
Psychosis is not a life sentence like I always tell my patients. There is hope and help after a psychotic episode.
I sincerely empathise with sufferers because psychosis can be life-changing, and sometimes some adjustments are required to live a fulfilling life. For example; Taking psychotropic Treatment for a long time, career change etc.
I believe the change we want to see, starts from me and you when we understand psychosis and how to support those around us.
If we can eradicate the stigma of mental illness, our job is almost half done. Then our community will begin to see psychosis as they see physical disabilities.
Therefore, people will see the need to donate funds for research and development of a treatment that may cure psychosis.
Causes of Psychosis
Psychosis could be triggered by many factors. Psychosis is not fully understood due to its complexity.
What triggers Psychosis?
Unfortunately, some people who are susceptible may develop psychosis if they expose themselves to things like illicit drugs or any stressful event.
Those who their parents or siblings have had a history of psychotic illness are more likely to develop psychosis.
Drugs Induced psychosis
Taking recreational drugs like cannabis, Amphetamines, speed, cocaine, can trigger psychosis.
Sometimes people who diagnosed with psychosis may use recreational drugs to help them cope with their symptoms, but this can leave them feeling worse.
Trauma or Abuse
Some people who have experienced trauma (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or abuse may also develop psychosis.
Some people who identify with a certain religion, spirituality or faith may encounter unusual experience sometimes where they can hear or see things related to their belief, that others can not.
However, this spiritual experience may be similar to those who have psychosis.
Although, the way to tell it is not psychosis is that the spiritual experience is not unpleasant, and it tends to line up with their spiritual beliefs.
They do not affect your ability to work and carry out your activities of daily task.
They can think clearly and their spiritual encounter doesn’t put them in a position where they are told to harm themselves or others.
If the unusual experiences you are having is causing you distress and affecting your everyday activities.
Then you need to speak to a trusted person and seek professional advice and support to help you make sense of the situation.
Physical Health Illness
People who have a certain illness such as Parkinson and Alzheimer’s disease may also experience symptoms of psychosis such as delusions or hallucination.
Those experiencing psychosis may find it difficult to interpret things like those around them.
Some may feel people can manipulate their thoughts and things they do.
The psychosis symptoms may vary from person to person. They are classed into two groups; Negative and Positive symptoms.
The negative symptoms refer to the decline in normal functions which can be easily be missed if not carefully assessed by professionals.
This symptoms includes ;
- Lacking the motivation to do things they used to.
- Poverty of speech- it can range from monotonous answers to catatonia( mutism), inability to express themselves.
- Social withdrawal- No longer interacting with others.
- Lacks concentration and ability to think clearly.
- Inability to initiate and complete a task.
- Not expressing emotion.
Whilst some people may have Negative symptoms of Psychosis, others may experience Positive symptoms.
Positive symptoms are associated with changes in the way they see things.
Some of the positive symptoms Includes;
Hallucinations include hearing, feeling, smelling, seeing or tasting something that is not there.
These experience are very real to those experiencing them.
Delusions are fixed false beliefs that contradicts one’s reality.
Some people with delusional beliefs hold ideas others may not share.
- They believe they are a significant figure in society.
- Excessive spending on things they may not need.
- Hold beliefs that someone wants to harm them or their loved ones.
- They believe they are being followed or even controlled by others.
- Believe they have special powers or abilities.
- They believe others can read their mind and hear their thoughts.
Disorganised speech or Behaviour
Some people who experience hallucination and delusion are more likely to be disorganised in their thinking and behaviour.
Example of Disorganised speech or behaviour;
- Going off on a tangent in conversations.
- Talking about things that not related to the discussion.
- Saying things that don’t make sense.
- Wearing mismatched clothing not appropriate for the weather.
- Reacting emotional inappropriately.
- Not able to care for themselves.
Types of psychosis
it’s a condition where you can lose touch with reality, for example, you may hear, see or feel, believe things that are real.
When your mood swing at both extremes highs and lows, which can take some time to stabilises.
This can happen when you take an excessive amount of certain drugs or withdrawal of alcohol and drug, which can induce hallucinations and psychotic symptoms.
when you have both schizophrenia and mood disorder like depression.
when you have a false, fixed belief about something and struggles to recognise what is real.
Does Psychosis go away?
In my experience, I have seen people recover from psychosis without been on treatment for a long time. For example, some of my patients who were supported by Early Intervention Services who developed psychosis as a result of excessive drug use and alcohol got better when they stopped using the illicit substance after a short term treatment with antipsychotics medication and remained well and discharge from services.
However, not every patient is lucky to be off medication and well at the same time. It is challenging to know if a patient will be well without medication so we encourage them to continue their recommended treatment for a period of time before stopping it to avoid relapse in mental state.
Treatment of psychosis
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms listed above. Speak to your doctor (General Practice ) or your care provider.
Your care provider will do an assessment of your mental health needs to know the best course of treatment or refer you to specialist service that may support you.
There is a range of treatment and support available.
Antipsychotic Treatments for psychosis
These group of medicine are used to manage or reduce the distressing thoughts or experiences, for example, a hallucination or delusional beliefs.
These medication helps with an acute episode of some of the symptoms of psychosis and stops the experience returning.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists reports that 4 out of 5 people treated with antipsychotic medication saw marked improvement in their symptoms.
However, there is no way to know which antipsychotic that will work for you. Sometimes, the doctor may try you on a few to find the suitable one that works.
How does Antipsychotic works
According to researchers, one of the brain chemicals called dopamine, which carries messages from one part of the brain to another, is affected when you have psychosis.
The researcher believes that there is a high level of dopamine in the brain, which may cause the brain to work differently hence the symptom of psychosis.
So, if anyone with these symptoms of psychosis takes antipsychotic medication, it is believed that the dopamine level in their brain will be stabilised or reduced.
There are two different types of antipsychotic medication.
Typical or also known as first-generation
These were used since the 1950s. you may be offered one these ones( chlorpromazine, flupenthixol, haloperidol, fluphenazine, zuclopenthixol, trifluoperazine etc.)
Atypical, or also known as second-generation
These were used since the 1990s. you may be prescribed the newer ones( Olanzapine, Risperidone, Aripiprazole, Clozapine, Quetiapine, Paliperidone, Amisulpride, Lurasdone etc)
The difference between the typical and Atypical are their side effects.
These are some of the side effects you may experience with the antipsychotic medications.
Restlessness, stiffness, constipation, blurred vision, weight gain, sexual problems, involuntary movement of face and body.
The typical antipsychotic medication is more likely an effect on your cause movement than the Atypical medication.
some people who take atypical antipsychotic may also experience side effect too.
The antipsychotic medication comes in different forms such as tablets, an injection which is known as depot and syrup.
These medications can take a few weeks or months to stop or reduce the symptoms of psychosis.
For more information on treatment and management of psychosis refer to, National Institute Clinical Excellence ( NICE) guidelines.
Psychological treatment, also known as talking theraphy, may be offered to you to help reduce the anxiety caused by psychosis or cope with these unusual experience. There are several possible psychological treatments.
For you to benefit from psychological treatment, you will need to trust and establish a good therapeutic relationship with your therapist.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy(CBT) for Psychosis
This is a type of psychological treatment that will help you to make sense of your unusual experience and reduce the intensity of the distressing experiences.
This theraphy will support you to process and analyse things differently without feeling upset and frightened. Also, it will help to deal with suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness.
CBT does not work for everyone. It does help people in their journey to recovery and to have a better quality of life.
Speak to GP or care provider if you are interested. However, there is normally a waiting list within the NHS if you live in the UK.
You may access CBT privately by with your local CBT therapist. So, Check with your doctors for a list of approved therapist.
The family intervention is another form of therapy that focuses on helping you and your family in managing your condition.
Some people who have psychosis may depend on your family members for care and support.
Though some family members can cope, some may find it difficult, and it may start to put a strain on their relationship.
The family intervention aims to help the family communicate and cope better with stressful situations, especially when supporting someone having these unusual experiences.
You may be required to attend a series of meetings over a period of 3-12 months or more.
This theraphy may provide support around your treatment, education, problem-solving, crisis management and relapse prevention.
However, you may need hospital admission for treatment of psychosis if you are deemed a risk to yourself or others or if you are very distressed by the unusual experience.
You may be admitted informally when you go in voluntarily or detained compulsorily under the Mental Health Act (1983), where an assessment will be carried out and you will receive treatment.
There are services that may provide support at home if you are in crisis.
Self Care And Lifestyle Adjustments
Healthy eating, regular exercise, managing stress and adequate sleep are all important in your recovery.
For ideas on self-care, take a look at 30-practical-self-care-for-busy-people-self-care/
For tips on maintaining and improve your mental wellbeing. Have a look at my other post. 6-ways-to-maintain-a-better-mental-health-and-well-being
For more information on psychosis and support around you. Have a look at my resources page for local resources available.
Disclaimer: The content of the post is my views and opinions solely and may not be associated with professional capacity. Speak to your doctor and care provider for advice and support.
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