Psychosis is a type of mental illness where
a person loses touch with the reality. They may also experience quite distressing symptoms
which are broadly classified into delusions which is false beliefs. They may experience
hallucinatory things like voices when no one is around them. They may also have disturbances
with their thought processes. If you are looking at the causes of psychotic
disorders, these can be a number of ideological factors or causative factors. One of them
being acute stress, severe overwhelming stress for an individual. The other being illicit
drugs or alcohol. Third being prescription medications like steroids, for example, may
cause psychosis. The fourth being severe enduring mental illnesses like schizophrenia or mood
disorders. Lastly, sometimes because of what is called organicity, meaning that some physical
problems in the brain, for example, tumours. The symptoms of psychosis can be broadly classified
into symptoms of beliefs, hallucinatory experiences, and thirdly, thought disorder symptoms. If I elaborate
on each, the false beliefs are also called delusions. Basically meaning the person develops a belief which they hold very strongly. It can be of various types. For example, some may believe that
people are out to kill them or get them. It’s called paranoid or persecutory delusions.
Some may develop grandiose delusions. Basically meaning they believe they have supernatural powers to do
things. It can also be what is called delusions over friends where they believe people are talking about
them or laughing at them and that might make them retaliate.
Talking about the hallucinating experiences, the most common ones are, people may sometimes hear voices talking to them coming from outside of themselves telling them sometimes nasty
things or giving some demands to do things which are called command hallucinations. These hallucinations are perception disorders in a way. They can be in any other modality as well, basically meaning they can be of touch, smell, taste, and sometimes, they may see things which aren’t there.
The third classical symptoms would be the disorder symptoms where they are confused
with their thought processes. They are again classified into different varieties. For example,
you may not understand what they are trying to say at all, or it may be they have difficulty
conveying their thoughts. These are the three broad classical symptoms people
may experience when they are psychotic. Psychosis can range from very transitory or
illnesses which may last for a few days to what are called enduring mental illnesses
like schizophrenia for example. In schizophrenia, the person may develop these symptoms in quite
a young age that may require treatment normally with medications or with talking therapies as well.
The symptoms sometimes can be very risky for the patient and for others. This really needs
to be carefully diagnosed first and then monitored and treated. Psychosis is treated generally with medications called anti-psychotics. There are a number
of anti-psychotics that can be used depending on what would benefit the person and what
would be the side effects which the particular person is able to tolerate. There’s a choice
of medications which can be used. These anti-psychotics are to be used for quite some time perhaps
two years, three years, for a person to actually benefit. Other than that, there are other
various talking therapies called cognitive behaviour therapy and other therapies which
could help. The other one is to look at how to help or
support the person to integrate back into the community so that they can lead normal
and productive lives. For a disorder like schizophrenia, sometimes, if we can broadly
classify it, around one-third of people may have one episode and may never experience
it again, and another one-third may actually never recover from their symptoms or their illness and the remaining percentage of people may have a number of episodes throughout their lives.
But the good news is there are medications, if combined with talking therapy and other
supports around their person can actually help a person lead a normal life.