Psychosis can affect many people suffering from mental health conditions and manifests in symptoms such as ‘losing touch’ of reality and interpreting everyday occurrences in a different way to those around you. Patients may experience psychotic episodes at stages throughout their life, or even day to day and these can be extremely frightening to experience and disconcerting to those close to them.
Psychosis is often diagnosed when someone experiences hallucinations, delusions and disorganised speech and thinking. These can sometimes cause the person to hurt themselves or others, so it’s imperative to seek professional medical help if you notice these signs in yourself or someone close to you.
When a person is affected by psychosis, they may experience hallucinations - seeing or hearing things that are not there, for example, a baby crying when there is no baby within earshot. These sensory experiences occur with no stimulus and can also be visual, with people seeing people or objects that aren’t there or experiencing smells or tastes that there is no reason for.
Delusions are common symptoms of psychosis and lead the person suffering from having thoughts or feelings that are not true, for example, walking into a room and believing everybody is staring at them. This can lead to an individual withdrawing from social situations and becoming reclusive to avoid such situations where delusions occur. A person experiencing persecutory delusions may believe that a person or organisation are plotting to hurt them, whereas someone with grandiose delusions may think they hold an immense status, such as being a political figure or having special powers, e.g. ability to fly.
Symptoms of psychosis can often include those listed below. However, it’s important to be aware that not everyone with psychosis will experience all of the symptoms.
Psychosis isn’t classed as a condition on its own but can be triggered by traumatic events and stress, or physical conditions like Parkinson's, a brain tumour or as on offset from drugs or alcohol misuse.
It also can be experienced by those suffering from severe depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. With the correct treatment, psychotic episodes can be reduced, and there is a good rate of recovery amongst patients. However, to ensure that the proper treatment is given, the underlying cause of the illness must be identified.
Some types of psychosis can be triggered by the following conditions or incidents experienced by an individual.
A severe form of post-partum depression experienced after a woman gives birth to her child. This is more likely to be experienced if the woman has previously suffered from mental disorders such as bipolar and schizophrenia.
Presents itself as short bursts of psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, disordered thought patterns and potentially suicidal thoughts. These episodes can last from a day up to a month and are most often triggered by traumatic experiences or genetics.
LSD is probably the most famous drug to trigger psychosis, but there are many other popular recreational drugs such as cocaine and weed that can cause hallucinations and delusions amongst those who use them. Misuse of alcohol can also induce psychotic behaviour.
This type of psychosis is caused by a person having a head injury or experiencing an infection in the brain.
Alongside the different types of psychosis, there are also mental health disorders which cause a person to experience psychotic symptoms, which include schizophrenia, delusional disorder, bipolar disorder and psychotic depression.
As long as there is no danger to the patient or to others, psychosis can be treated at home with an evidenced based appproach that seeks to find the underlying issues causing the illness.