Introduction to Psychosis
Psychosis is a mental health condition where people lose a sense of reality and perceive things differently to those around them.
What is Psychosis?
Psychosis is a mental health condition where people lose a sense of reality and perceive things differently to those around them. Psychosis can involve hallucinations (hears/sees/smells things which aren’t there) or delusions (believes things which rationally would seem untrue). The combination of hallucinations and delusions can severely affect a person’s perception, emotions and behaviour. Psychosis mainly affects people once they reach late puberty, though anyone can be affected.
What are the causes for Psychosis?
Psychosis can be caused by the following medical conditions, drugs, or illicit drugs: Schizophrenia: A long term mental health condition (the positive symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations and delusions). Bipolar disease: A mental health condition which is characterised by periods of depression and mania. Severe depression: When people are very depressed, they have signs of psychosis. Medication for Parkinson’s disease: Levodopa can induce psychosis but see the GP if you’re experiencing psychotic effects. Do not stop taking your medication without GP consultation. Illicit drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine, MDMA, LSD.
In some cases, the levels of dopamine, signaling molecule in the brain associated with feeling reward, in people with psychosis can be too high.
What are the symptoms of Psychosis?
Psychosis is characterised by hallucinations, delusions, confused thoughts and random speech and a lack of self-awareness. However, psychosis is usually a symptom of other mental health conditions or a side effect of some medication rather than a condition within itself.
How is Psychosis treated?
Antipsychotics also known as neuroleptics can be prescribed as the first course of treatment. They block the effect of dopamine but they can have severe side effects so might not be suitable in people with conditions such as epilepsy and cardiovascular disease. Side effects include drowsiness, restlessness, dizziness, constipation, loss of libido and dry mouth.
Psychological therapies include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT tries to understand how people make sense of their delusions and hallucinations and why it distresses them. It aims to identify unhelpful emotions and trails of thought which can cause unwanted feelings and behaviour. This form of thinking is then replaced with more realistic, balanced thoughts.