What do you know about psychosis? You’re not alone if you aren’t sure what it is or why it occurs. A mental health disorder was once thought to be the cause of symptoms of psychosis. However, this theory may not always be accurate. Instead, there are many thoughts about why someone has a psychosis episode.

The Definition of Psychosis

Take a moment to think about how you see your environment. Look around; what do you see? Think about not seeing what those around you see and experience, people who perceive things or see their surroundings differently.

The terms for psychosis vary. Some people describe psychosis as “psychotic symptoms,” “psychotic experiences,” or “psychotic episodes.” Most people refer to a break from reality or losing contact with reality in a psychotic episode. The definition remains the same regardless of the term used to describe psychosis.

Psychosis is a symptom, not a diagnosis of a mental health disorder. Psychosis is used to characterize conditions affecting the mind. More succinctly, psychosis is when you have a break or lose contact with reality. During an episode, you may experience disturbing thoughts or perceptions which affect your ability to understand what is real and not real. Prolonged symptoms of psychosis can lead to a schizophrenic or bipolar disorder diagnosis.

Causes of Psychosis

Researchers are not sure what causes psychosis. However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are approximately 100,000 new cases of psychosis every year. Your gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status don’t matter, as psychosis can begin in your late teens or early twenties.

Potential Triggers

While researchers don’t know what causes psychosis, they have several theories of what can create a break from reality. One theory of the cause of psychosis is your life experiences can increase the risk of a psychotic episode. Unfortunately, many life experiences are beyond your control, so preventing psychosis is out of your control.

Examples of life experiences are:

  • Homelessness
  • Delirium, a state of mental confusion caused by severe physical illness or surgery
  • Grief
  • Childbirth
  • Racism

The following are potential factors for a psychotic episode:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Medical conditions
  • Specific medicines
  • An alcohol or drug use disorder or withdrawal from substances

Researchers also think other variables include:

  • Neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, or dementia
  • A brain injury
  • Side effects from prescription medications
  • Menopause
  • Or instances of heightened stress or anxiety

Symptoms of Psychosis

Signs of psychosis can occur before you develop psychosis. While you can’t prevent psychotic episodes, you can pay attention to changes in your behavior. Some early warning signs of psychosis — if you’re in your late teens to early twenties — include:

  • A sudden decrease in your grades or work performance
  • New difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Paranoid thoughts, suspiciousness, or feeling uneasy with people
  • Withdrawing or isolating yourself from others
  • Strange feelings, intense or unusual new thoughts, or a lack of feelings altogether
  • A lack of hygiene or self-care
  • Hallucinations like hearing or seeing things that aren’t real, such as believing you’re being followed or spied on by government agencies or others
  • Delusions (false beliefs) like the impression that you’re being poisoned or your thoughts are being monitored because of a chip in your head
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Speech or behavior that is difficult to understand, inappropriate for the situation, or nonsensical

You may also experience depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders like schizophrenia. During a psychotic episode, you may seem aggressive, unpredictable, or violent to others. However, you’re more at risk of hurting yourself than others. Beginning treatment during the early phases of psychosis is vital. Early treatment increases your chance of a more effective recovery. Treatment that includes prescriptions and therapy can help you cope with the symptoms and allow you to have a fulfilling life.

First Episode Psychosis

First episode psychosis (FEP) most often occurs in early adulthood. Usually, before FEP appears, there is a period when your grasp on reality breaks or slips away.

Treatments for Psychosis

The NIMH reports that most people will experience psychotic symptoms for up to a year before they seek treatment. Those diagnosed in the early stages can benefit from several types of treatment, including specialty care. The NIMH launched a research program to study coordinated specialty care and the best interventions for those experiencing early psychosis. The NIHM describes coordinated specialty care as a treatment that consists of:

  • Therapies like individual or group therapy based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Family education and support groups that teach loved ones about psychosis and ways for family members to problem-solve, communicate, or cope with a loved one diagnosed with psychosis
  • Medication management
  • Services that help you return to work or school and reach your goals
  • Case management

Experiencing a psychotic episode is life-changing. You may feel out of control of your life and not know where you can turn to for help. However, if you think you have experienced psychosis or have warning signs of psychosis, you can find the support and treatment you need. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute, located in San Diego, CA, provides the care and support necessary for healing. Our comprehensive, specialty coordinated care program provides the opportunity to understand and live with your psychosis. Then, with the guidance of your therapist, you can create a treatment plan that focuses on your individual needs. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute believes in its clients and strives to provide the highest quality care. We welcome your questions about our treatment philosophy, location, and staff.

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